Phariseeism, to me, is the tendency among us, to look down our noses on others who are doing their best to walk with Jesus, and judge them negatively because they do not do everything that we are doing. It is the tendency and temptation to tell others where they fall short, what they are doing wrong, and to tell them what they should be doing instead. I consider Phariseeism itself a falling short of God’s perfect ways.
All of us have maybe experienced being on both ends of the Pharisee spectrum: the giving end, or receiving end. I know I have. The giving end is where we act as a Pharisee for someone else; we are maybe a little offended that someone else is not where we are in our knowledge or practice, and we take it upon ourselves to be judge and jury for them.
This is what I think Jesus meant when He said, "Judge not, lest you be judged." He is warning us about judging the state of another person’s heart, where they are in their walk with God. Look at it this way: someone who is a new Christian, who does not yet know all the definition of sin, continues in a practice that they have always done, not knowing any better. A "Pharisee" comes along and condemns them, because he knows that particular practice is something God considers "sin." (Let’s use gossiping as an example.) Is that new Christian to be condemned, however? God is working with them on first things first, and has perhaps not opened their eyes yet to the fact that gossiping is a sin. If a person is doing something innocently, does God condemn them? However God will answer that question, what is clear is that it is way above our pay grade to be deciding those things. But our responsibility toward our brother, is not to be a Pharisee toward him, but to restore him in a spirit of gentleness. We need to teach him from the Scripture, speaking the truth in love, and simply give him the information he has lacked. No outrage, nor any detrimental emotion at all, need accompany our speech, and if it does, then we are not one who is "spiritual," and we have no business instructing others.
Now a lot of people throw around the "Judge not" verse to escape censure, to continue in a sin they know perfectly well is wrong. Well, now they are in God’s hands, and out of ours. If we have been a witness, and have shown forth what the Word of God says, then all that is left for us is to interceed for them on their behalf. It is NOT our responsibility to "make them mind," unless we are in some position of God- ordained authority over them. The concept of exactly where our responsibility begins, and where it ends, is truly hard for some people who have a tendency to Phariseeism to grasp.
The receiving end of Phariseeism, is someone else being a Pharisee in our lives, and condemning us as sinners, when we are in fact innocent. Maybe someone has a theological disagreement with someone else on which day to observe a Sabbath day of rest. One person thinks it is Saturday, the other thinks it is Sunday. They both have their reasons, convictions, for believing so. The one who is convinced it is Saturday rests on Saturday; the one who is convinced it is Sunday rests on Sunday. But they are both resting, according to the commandment. Now if the Saturday rester condemns the Sunday rester as a sinner, then I believe he is being a Pharisee toward the other. God probably does have a definite opinion on who is right. But it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness, and dear brothers and sisters, we are not the Holy Spirit! We need to leave some things up to the Lord; and for whatever reason, the Holy Spirit has not convicted whoever is wrong in the dispute of the truth. That is up to Him!
Jesus censured the Pharisees for paying such close attention to whether they tithed dill and cumin, that they forgot to show mercy towards others and act justly. Jesus corrected the Pharisees all the time of their imbalance that they had brought to obeying God, to Torah observance. God never intended that keeping His Torah would be a burden; Jesus even said that His yoke was easy and His "burden" was light. It is Phariseeism that makes obeying God a burden; accepting a flawed human as our conscience instead of learning to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit which is within us. The Pharisees were horrified with Jesus’ Sabbath behavior at times, and each time He had to show them where they were wrong. Yes, Pharisees can be wrong, LOL. Remember that the next time you horrify one of them by your conviction.