Let’s Be Clear: Gambling is a Sin

lottoticketAs the Alabama legislature once again considers a statewide lottery as a means of funding state government, Christians need to clear on this one fact: Gambling is a sin.

Over the years, I’ve heard more than one person assert that “the Bible does not condemn gambling.” While it is true that there is no Bible statement which says, “Thou shalt not gamble,” it is entirely UNTRUE that the Bible is silent on the subject. Gambling is shown to be sinful by a number of general principles of truth found in the Scriptures. The Bible condemns gambling the same way it condemns racketeering, drug abuse, and pornography. None of these things is specifically mentioned in Scripture, but they can all be shown to be sinful by the straightforward application of Bible principles.

GAMBLING IS SINFUL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS: 

1) It is an exercise in covetousness. People gamble because of a lust for money possessed by others. In Hebrews 13:5 God’s book says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” If gamblers are “content with” what they have, why are they gambling? They are looking for the big payoff! They are willing to risk what they’ve got out of a desire to get rich quick. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

2) Gambling is poor stewardship. All that we have has been given to us by God and is to be used to glorify Him. The apostle Peter admonishes us to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).  Gambling institutions such as casinos, horse tracks, government lotteries and charity raffles design their games in such a way as to guarantee that players will lose much more money overall than they ever win. The odds of hitting the jackpot in a typical state lottery are about one in 12 million. Any investment firm that took such chances with its clients’ money would soon be out of business and probably facing criminal charges. Surely the Christian’s duty to be a “faithful” steward is greater than that of some Wall Street investment firm (1 Corinthians 4:2). How can Christians consider themselves faithful stewards of the finances God has entrusted to their care and gamble them away?

3) Playing the Lottery promotes addiction. Addiction is sinful because it places another master on the throne of a person’s heart. That throne should be occupied by the Lord alone. “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24a). A significant percentage of people (especially young people) who gamble will become addicted to it. It will control their lives.

4) Playing the Lottery is worldliness. Gambling is worldly in its origin and nature. In fact, one would be hard pressed to think of an activity that more people would identify as being worldly. When Hollywood wants to depict a character in a film as a man of the world, what activities do they typically have the character engage in? Three things immediately come to mind: drinking, smoking and gambling. In 1 John 2:15 the apostle John commands us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

 Other thoughts from Scripture could be offered, but these more than suffice to conclude that gambling is definitely a sin. “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” (1 John 3:6).

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