This post is partially from the comments section of another post.
“You can’t use your moral compass to asses [sic] enlightened sages.” But, that does beg the question: how do you know whether or not someone is an enlightened sage?
You don’t. Only an enlightened sage knows another(Actually, there are no ‘others’ for a sage). But he doesn’t need to; because for him Self alone remains. Everyone and everything is enlightenment/awareness/bramh.
Who wants to know whether someone is enlightened or not?
Only a seeker.
To follow someone or to convince himself that enlightenment does exist. Like all other questions this one(whether X is/was enlightened or not?) is also futile.
All questions are mind playing tricks on you.
What to do? Follow anyone. You might follow a sage from past or present. Doesn’t matter much(unless there is evident exploitation!) Your sincerity and faith take you to the goal. Your inner Guru is already with you all the times. The point in question was from my viewpoint(concerning Bhakti Yoga-Yoga of devotion)–I feel sages and avatars are to be followed and not questioned. If you can’t–then move on–follow nobody in particular.
Without faith no progress can be made. If you say you don’t follow anyone living or dead you’re merely misleading yourself and others as far as spirituality is concerned because every little thing no matter how trivial it seems comes from a Guru living or dead. The inner Self is the highest Guru who keeps guiding you every moment until you two are one.