In Titus chapter 2, verse 11, people say “well you have grace. Grace means you can pretty much live like you want to. Don’t you have grace? Don’t you believe in grace? You must be Pharisee” they say.
They say, “you’re strict about the Bible and how Christians [are] to live, you’re a Pharisee”. Now that’s not what the Pharisees were guilty of. Pharisees were guilty of rejecting Jesus Christ, rejecting the Gospel of the grace of God, replacing Scripture with their own man-made tradition, and living in hypocrisy. And if I am guilty of those things, then I am a Pharisee, but being strict about Christian living and strict with the Bible is not Phariseeism, it’s obedience. We’re saved by grace, but we’re saved unto good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
My two cents
The concept of Biblical strictness has appealed to me for years. Strictness must include obedience to the word of God, especially the parts which are unpopular or politically incorrect. Obedience to just the easy bits is slackness.
Christians who accuse others of Phariseeism often forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:1-3. According to these verses, He commanded us to follow the Pharisees’ teachings (just not their actions), and David Cloud makes a good point of what their actions were. Put another way, Jesus was criticising the Pharisees because they weren’t as strict as he was. In this context, disobedience to the teachings of the Pharisees is ultimately disobedience to Christ.
The Bible ought not to be seen as an uncomfortable straitjacket that presses into us—that’s the usual connotation that’s been loaded into words like strict, and this is unfortunate. Rather, Biblical strictness ought to be seen as something we want to cling to. If we don’t cling, we’re not strict, and then we become like Pharisees.
Phariseeism is not strict obedience—it is slack disobedience. People who call others Pharisees tend to forget this and gravitate towards a self-indulgent emotionalism.
Cloud, D. (n.d). Scripture Demands Fundamentalism (Pt. 3 of 4). Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwwvyKdlzg8. Last accessed 21st Apr 2013.