Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
Is Gambling A Sin?
-by Tony Warren
s gambling a sin? What does the Bible say about gambling? Sadly, most Christians "today" will avoid the question altogether or simply speak against the problem of compulsive gamblers. But does that really address the real issue that was almost universally understood in this country a generation ago. Because Christian people were God fearing assiduous souls that recognized this as a cancer-like desease that threatened the very fabric of moral society. Sadly, in our day this conscientious and scrupulous nature is all but gone from the Church. And the Biblical principles are secondary to the "greater good."
While it is true that the Bible does not explicitly forbid lotteries, gambling or betting, it does give ample proofs that these forms of gambling are of the flesh carnal, and not something that the conscientious Christian should indulge in. The key word being "conscientious." Scripture is replete with the timeless Biblical principles for living God glorifying lives. It is a book profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, and a treasure trove of answers to all questions, including gambling. Its purpose is that we might be thoroughly furnished unto all good works as we live in this world. Therefore, to find our answer, we must carefully examine just what gambling is, and see if it measures up to God's word concerning our standard for living. Because we can never assume that because something is not explicitly mentioned in scripture, that it is therefore not a sin. For example, turning ourselves into mindless vegetables by using mind altering drugs is not "explicitly" mentioned in scripture either, but it is a sin never-the-less and clearly violates God's law. How do we know? We know by searching the scriptures circumspectly, letting it define its own terms in what this encompasses, and comprehending how it measures up to God's word concerning our standard for living. the word sheds a light upon our actions, and to the humble in Spirit, reproves us of sin.
The only way that we will know the truth about gambling is to allow the light of God's word to train us in the way of life. But to do that requires that we have the will and desire to receive its corrections and reproofs. And to accept its definitions of sin, rather than lean upon our own understanding of it. And when we do that we see illustrated that the very nature of gambling is one of a carnal lust for quick gain, by way of chance. It is exciting (to the flesh) and gives a false hope of the satisfaction of quick riches and the carnal pleasures of the game. Could such an inordinate love of acquiring money in this way be in any way virtuous? Because if it is not virtuous, it is sin. Selah!
- "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:"
Can a conscientious Christian have faith in gambling? For what is not of faith is sin. Seeking quick riches by games of chance is neither a moral, nor an honorable profession for anyone, much less someone taking on the name of Christ. The Bible warns us that the root of all the evils is monetary love. The love of playing games to obtain money is not moral, and brings no one closer to God. In point of fact, it often drives them farther away. Which is yet another reason Christians should abstain from this.
- "And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
1st Timothy 6:5-11
The Bible encourages the faithful steward to be wary of slothful schemes to "get rich quick" (
), but Christians today seem to want to live as much like the world as they possibly can, while still professing to be Christians. And for justification, they usually protest that it hurts no one, it is not specifically forbidden, or that it is just a game. First, it's not just a game. If it was just a game, there would be no reason Casinos wouldn't work without anyone winning money. But the whole point of gambling is to multiply your money by way of chance, competition or contest. People declaring that the "money doesn't mean anything," is just words! Second, it does hurt people, and it is usually the people who can least afford to be hurt. Families have been ruined, and lives have been changed by gambling. To declare that no one is being hurt by gambling is attempt to deny the obvious. And third, it is forbidden. Not by explicit wordings like, "Thou Shalt Not Gamble," but like a hundred other sins, by implicit laws that cover it De Facto, or that by obeying them "in effect" rule out the behaviour. For example, the law against adultery rules out looking at a Woman to lust after her, and the law against murder rules out abortion. Sure, people may protest and declare the Bible doesn't say that, but this doesn't mean their protests are validated. All the justifications for Christians gambling are self-serving, and they do not address the real nature of the beast. Which is craving, infatuation and carnality, rather than constraint or control, virtue and spirituality. And where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
- "Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
- But godliness with contentment is great gain.
- For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
- And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
- But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
- For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
- But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
When a Christian gambles, he has to search out extra-biblical reasons to justify his actions? And why? If it is not addictive, not something you need, not a carnal lust, not needed, then why do it? Why not sacrifice it for the glory of God? The answer of course is, they don't "WANT" to because their carnal nature is to have whatever they want, regardless of the justification. Faithful Christians should be seeking to be paragons of virtue to a sin cursed world, not pridefully insistent on the very same bondage the world is in. And the horror of this is that people claim that it is their "Christian liberty" to gamble if they want, being totally oblivious to the truth that this is not Christian freedom, but bondage to the flesh. That age-old pretence for man living carnally, without restraint, has always been liberty. People may claim they have the liberty to do worldly things without fear, but what they are practicing is not liberty but the greatest slavery. God speaks against vain carnal justifications in Peter, illustrating that nothing has changed in the heart of man.
- "And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."
2nd Peter 2:18-19
So when we ask about gambling and sin, we start by recognizing it as a servitude to the flesh. It isn't a Christian's liberty to gamble, it is the spiritual captivity found in the vain lack of Christian restraint because of his love for this unrecognized flaw. It is not a Christian virtue, it is his vice, his weak spot or achilles heel. When someone gambles, it is generally the carnal love of money that drives him, and that is the root of all kinds of evil. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that gambling is focused on the love of money, and that it undeniably tempts people with the promise of quick and easy riches. Gambling encourages materialism and greed and is a symptom of man's discontentment with what he has. It is an attempt to get something for nothing and at the expense of others who lose. Can a Christian then do this in the name of Jesus Christ?
- "For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
- While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage."
What honest, Bible believing Christian, can look himself in the mirror and declare that His deeds in gambling were done righteously in the name of the Lord? Let that professing Christian step forward and be counted. Because whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23}. Churches once understood this, but in the early '90s, things began to change. Unfaithful Christians began being convinced by the majority that gambling was just good clean fun and would be a painless source of income for the state. It was almost as if they had made the great discovery that a "something for nothing" formula could actually work in our society. Even though God's precepts denied this would ever lead to anything but degradation, this is the path they took. Even now many are blind to the damage that has been done to society both morally and culturally. Christians are appointed to be good stewards of God's money. And Gambling is contrary to good stewardship of the things that God has gracefully given us. So this also makes gambling sinful, as we are obligated to be wise stewards of every good thing God has provided for us.
- "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
By contrast, the self-willed Gambler believes (if not in word, in deed) that he has earned his money, and "therefore" it is his decision alone how he spends it. He's back to Christian liberty, but this unrighteously excludes God from the equation. God who gives His people the talent, health and job opportunities to make a living and earn those funds. Wise stewardship of our money is De Facto wise stewardship of God's money. If we are truly servants of God, it all belongs to Him, and we are simply stewards of it. He rules over us, not vice versa. we should never fall to being ruled over by the carnal lusts of the flesh in things like concupiscence, drinking, coveting, gambling, envy and other dark desires of the flesh.
- "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
Gambling is nothing more than the flesh, or carnal lusting for instant riches. And this lust starts in the mind's eye, and spreads to the flesh to becomes the desire of the heart. The only way to combat the desire of the heart is to take it away. And that starts with the eye. Let us keep our eye on the prize, not on the lure of gambling.
- "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof."
If thine eye offend thee (or if it offends another Christian), pluck it out. Don't make excuses for it. Of course this doesn't mean pull your literal eye out, but cut off whatever sin that is offensive to you or your brethren. Cut off the desire at the source, which is at the eye. Where you first "see" it and desire it. And if you cannot, then you should circumspectly begin to ask yourself, why not. Is it because you are truly a slave to it? Because the fact is, there is no real need or necessity for gambling. Therefore, if a faithful Christian cannot stop, or has no desire to stop, even though he knows that this is offensive to Christians and gives the appearance of evil () to Christians, then he has lost control. He has become locked in bondage to that sin. Gambling has taken over his will and that is why he is rationalizing and justifying continuing in this vice. The solution is to pluck out the eye. In other words, take that thing that is at the root of the problem, that thing that is the apple of your eye, and remove it. Take your eyes off gambling and place them squarely and solely upon Christ. Only then will we understand the dark and carnal nature of gambling, and the righteousness and true blessings in turning away from it.
- "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:"
When we take our eyes off the world, and place them singly upon Christ, we will not want to gamble, because we will have an earnest desire to do God's will and not our own. To be spiritual rather than carnal. To be a help to the brethren rather than a hindrance. When we place our eye singly upon Christ, then we are closer to Godliness and light and farther away from the darkness of the world. Gambling is of the world and tempts people to place their hope there.
- "The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
- Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness."
Nor should we waste God's money. And gambling is the waste of money that could be better used "to the glory of God." There are those who seek to rationalize gambling further by declaring it is no more or less wasteful than spending money to see a bad movie. But that is a very poor analogy, because when you go to a movie, you are paying for a service. Gambling is not an investment, it is not paying for a service, it is gambling your funds on a game of "chance" that those funds might instantly increase. It is looking toward getting quick money on chance. People who pay to watch a bad movie are buying a commodity and expect only entertainment in return, not free or increased money. And of course, when faced with the question, "Is gambling A Sin," the rationalizations go on and on.
- "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
- "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits."
There is never a shortage of excuses for sin because in man's carnality, he wants to do his own will, rather than God's will. So He is always right, and whatever word of God that is quoted is "misinterpreted" out of context or not applicable. In man's eyes, because of man's will, he is always right, therefore there will always be new reasons for some people to believe that a sin is not a sin.
- "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts."
So is gambling a sin? Yes. But some Christians have ask, "Is it possible to cast the lot without sin?" The Biblical answer is yes. For example, when casting the lot is not done for gain of money, but simply to make selections without any personal prejudice or favor. The Lot is cast, and someone is selected, as it is God's will.
In other words, if I'm an employer and I have two equally qualified people for one job I have, and I want to choose one without my personal bias, it would be perfectly lawful for me to cast a lot or flip a coin and leave it in the hands of divine providence. There is no sin, lust, bias or carnality involved.
- "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD."
In this same way, the Bible records the casting of lots as a way that people would use to determine something impartially. For example, casting lots is recorded in the book of Leviticus to choose between the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat. And Joshua cast the lot to allocate the portions of the conquered land to the various tribes of Israel. This is done that there be no call of favoritism. Nehemiah cast the lot to make an unbiased decision on who would live inside the walls of Jerusalem. And even the Apostles cast the lot to select a replacement for Judas from the qualified applicants. But not one of these examples is of gambling or lotteries because of a lust for quick money. Nor should they be confused with the examples of gambling we are dealing with today in this article. It's like comparing apples and oranges, meaning it is totally different. Gambling for money is an act of the flesh, a vain attempt to acquire or increase wealth, not by labor, but by contest or chance.
In Gambling, you are throwing away money if you lose, and if you win you are not earning the money by honest labor. It is (Biblically speaking) a no win situation. In other words, wealth evil gotten shall not prosper, but the faithful Christian who gathers wealth by honest labor shall yield more. Vanity is in gambling, which is the dishonest practice of gain without labor. While possessions that are truly valuable, are gained by labor. Those Christians who seek wealth by cunning games of swift gain, in the end will be disappointed, while the gain of honest labor will show the real spiritual prosperity. As a practical example, not many years ago, people worked a couple years to save enough money to buy their first car. It built character and engrained in people the concept of value, responsibility and appreciation. Today, parents (wise in their own conceits) give their children cars just for reaching a certain age, and as a result they have no real appreciation for the value, nor the labor to get it. Indeed, they think parents are "obligated" to buy it for them, just because they are parents. That is the gist of that passage, "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase." But you see, man, parents, Christians are not listening to God anymore, because they think they know better, thinking they can buy their children's love with gifts and easy money. As a result, the work ethic is sorely lacking, parents being void of the wisdom of God's words.
- "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase."
He that works is satisfied with the provision of bread, but those that pursue vanities are void of wisdom or sound intellect. Trying to buy your children's love is vanity. Trying to get rich quick, without labor is vanity. The love of money is vanity. But God knew the end from the beginning, and His proverbs are timeless. Our ways and God's ways are not the same. We rationalize but God justifies. Obtaining money through gambling is not the way of the spirit filled Child of God, it is the way of the sloth, of the world, and of carnal man. God encourages gain by honest labor, but Christians today seek deep to make their own laws.
- "He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding."
Gambling is another way to bypass labor to get quick money, but the Lord counsels His children to persevere labor and that is what will make us truly rich. It is a shame that so many Christians cannot, or will not understand exactly what these passages mean. Because there are all kinds of riches, but only one that satisfies.
- "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
Selah! Like people who love to gamble, they never have enough, they are never satisfied with their winnings or losses. This too is the vanity of gambling. The fact is, lotteries and gambling schemes prey on the vanity and weaknesses of men, showing the allure of "getting rich quick," which is generally too great a temptation for the poor and desperate to resist. The shame of it is that the Church has declined so much in our day, that moral issues like gambling, promiscuity, divorce and remarriage (that were once at the forefront), are now virtually non-issues in the Church.
- "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
- When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?"
Some Christians may have been snared by state lotteries that attempt to portray themselves as charitable, or a way to fund good programs, education or social welfare. But that is simply another way for man to use the wages of bondage, lust, greed, addiction and weakness in place of charity and Christian responsibility. Lotteries and Casinos exist to take your money, and as the serpent in the garden, making it appear enjoyable and painless. It is just another tax used by the state to collect money. Indeed, why do you think they call the collection of funds related to things like alcohol, cigarettes and gambling a "Sin Tax?" Because they know these things are sinful or harmful to society, and unlike some Christians, they are at least honest enough in recognizing it for what it is. Make no mistake, lotteries are not a charity, are not a virtue, and are not God glorifying in any way whatsoever. And even hypothetically, if lotteries were not inherently sinful (and they are), they still would be un-biblical, because they don't stand the test of the rest of the Biblical criteria for lawfulness.
1st Corinthians 10:23
Is Gambling a Sin? Well, does gambling edify one's Christian walk? No! And not only does it not edify at all, it is a stumbling block to other weaker Christians. But even if one were to rationalize all these things away, it still falls into the category of giving the appearance of evil. There are just so many ways this vice is seen to be un-biblical. And because gambling is unsavory and really not a profitable good for anyone, as conscientious Christians, we should abstain from participating:
- "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
1st Thessalonians 5:21-23
Is gambling a sin? Well, does gambling give the appearance of evil? There is really no question about it. Because it is undeniably addictive, it clearly ruins many peoples lives and it destroys families. Which is reason enough for the conscientious Christian to stay away from it. Of course, the key word here being conscientious, spirit filled Christian. The Christian who actually cares about what God wills, how his neighbor is affected, and loves him as he does himself.
- "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
- Abstain from all appearance of evil.
- And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Here God cautions us against abusing our Christian freedom, that we would suppose that such looses us from all responsibility or obligation to serve God or have agape "caring" benevolence and concern for our fellow man. We are to be good stewards over our money, and in our responsibility to our neighbors.
- "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
- For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
We should humbly and honestly ask ourselves, could we really gamble to the glory of God, and in Christ's name? Do you really think that Christ would have gambled money in the market places of Jerusalem, rationalizing that it was to the glory of God? I think that most conscientious Christians can answer that pretty easily.
1st Corinthians 10:31
Is gambling a Sin? Well, does a Christian gamble to the glory of God? Do I really need to wait for an answer from honest Christians? If Christ wouldn't do it, we should endeavor to refrain from such actions, which are clearly addictive, destructive and generally borne of lustful carnal desires. As good Christians we should keep our lives free from the lusts and love of money, being content with the fruits of our labors.
- "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Where is the contentment of the faithful Christian? Has it completely vanished along with the love of God and reliance upon His word are arbiter? We are called by God, translated into God's kingdom of righteousness and peace, and to live our lives on this sin cursed earth evangelizing as if the hope of that kingdom was a present reality. So let us reject the way of the world and be good stewards, rather than unthinking vain servants who seek only our own entertainment and enjoyment. Satan is the ultimate gambler. For even though he knows that the "house" is surely the ultimate winner, being an adversary, he foolishly gambles against the master of the House anyway. Let us not be so foolish and culpable. Let us turn away from carnality, let us put Christ first, and crucify the flesh. For the truth is, we cannot serve both God and Money. So while the Bible does not say, "Thou Shalt Not gamble," it does contain timeless instructions and principles for living Christian lives in accordance to His word. And to do so with the wisdom to tackle every question that may arise, including gambling.
- "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
May the Lord God, who is gracious above all, give you the wisdom to know the difference between rationalization and justification, and the humility to sacrifice all to the glory of God.
Copyright ©2010 Tony Warren
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