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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Of Pigs and People

pigs Anyone who has dealt much with domesticated animals has probably observed the following: Dogs look up to people.  Cats look down on people.  Only pigs see us as equals.  It’s rather humbling to think that pigs may be correct in their assessment of us. In many respects, people really are like pigs.  Even our anatomies are similar!  For instance, the heart valves in pigs are so like ours that surgeons use them as replacement parts for human heart valves.  There are thousands of people walking around today with pig parts in their hearts!

  Whatever similarities we humans may naturally share with pigs, there at least three ways we should strive to be different from them.

Pigs are Gluttons
  I have been told that pigs only overeat if humans over-feed them. But they certainly do have a reputation for being gluttonous animals.  If we say that somebody “eats like a pig,” or that they “pigged-out” at a restaurant, we mean that they have over indulged! 

  In our land of plenteous food and expanding waistlines gluttony is ever a temptation — and I mean “temptation” in the Biblical sense — an enticement to commit sin!   Yes, gluttony is a sin. It is a failure to control a fleshly appetite.  In Titus 1:12-13, the inspired apostle Paul says that “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” and then he tells Titus to “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.”  Obviously one cannot be “sound in the faith” and be a glutton, any more than one can be “sound in the faith” and be a liar, lazy or an evil beast. 

  Like other temptations, we must guard against and strive to overcome the temptation to commit gluttony (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13).  If the places we eat or the people with whom we eat are leading us into temptation, we need to make changes.  Proverbs 23:20 instructs, “Do not mix with wine-bibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.”

  Pigs don’t control their appetites. God’s children must!

Pigs Wash, then Wallow
   People do not really sweat like pigs, because pigs don’t sweat.  They cool themselves by wallowing in the mud.  Describing Christians who fall back into sin, the apostle Peter stated that “it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire'” (2 Peter 2:21-22).  When we have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus, and then return to wallowing in the muck of the world, we are like pigs.

  As God’s children, we are to be the sheep of His pasture, not the pigs of His pen.  And, as a friend of mine often says, “sheep don’t wallow.”

  Pigs don’t keep themselves clean.  God’s children must! 

Pigs have no Sense of Value
  Pigs have no concept of the value of pearls.  In Matthew 7:6 Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”  When people show no regard or respect for the Word of God, they are like pigs — they have no sense of what is truly valuable.  Disrespect for God’s word can be shown by lack of interest in it (failing to study, prepare Bible class lesson, or attend worship).  Disregarding and disobeying what the Word says can also show it.  When we follow the ways of men and listen to the counsel of worldly friends instead of heeding God’s word, we are like pigs.

  Pigs don’t value God’s word. God’s children must!

  Let us lay aside our hoggish hunger, our swinish sins, and our porcine priorities!

Steve Klein

“If We Say That We Have No Sin…”

    As a youngster, I remember wondering what it would be like to be blind.  When I thought no one was looking, I would close my eyes and try to walk from place to place in the house.  If anyone ever saw me, I’m sure they would have thought that I had a serious problem!  My self-imposed “blindness” caused me to bump into furniture, stub my toes, and walk into walls. My walking improved instantly when I opened my eyes.  I found that being able to see the things that are causing you to stumble makes all the difference.

  Christians sometimes have a problem walking in the light because of self-imposed blindness.  They close their eyes to their sins.  Sin is a problem for all of us, but it must remain an unresolved problem only if we close our eyes to it.  Jesus told the Pharisees “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (John 9:41).  The person who does not recognize his own problem with sin is spiritually blind.  He will not avoid the sin, correct the sin or seek forgiveness for the sin because he has chosen not to see the sin.

  Is sin presently a problem in your life?  Do you struggle to overcome temptation?  Do you occasionally find yourself remorsefully confessing your sins to God or fellow Christians?  Anyone who cannot answer “YES” to these questions, needs to open their eyes and take a good hard look at themselves in light of what the apostle John has to say in 1 John 1:8-9: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

  The child of God who has access to the blood of Jesus has a means of resolving the problem of sin.  Once he opens his eyes and sees the problem, he can get cleansing and forgiveness from God by confessing his sins (1 John 1:9).  Continual confession is necessary for continual cleansing of the continual problem of sin.  We are not to confess merely that we “have sin,” but we are to “confess our sins.”   If we say that we that we don’t  have an issue with sin, we are willfully blind and self deceived.

 — Steve Klein

Keep Your Job

 The following ad appeared in the HELP WANTED section of a newspaper. “TIRED OF WORKING FOR ONLY $9.75 PER HOUR? WE OFFER PROFIT SHARING AND FLEXIBLE HOURS. STARTING PAY:   $7 — $9 PER HOUR.”  Now, maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that $9.75 is a little more than $9, and a good bit more than $7.  I wonder how many people responded to this ad?  If folks evaluated this opportunity the way many evaluate things in the spiritual realm, there may have been quite a few! 

Satan offers work that is easy, convenient and pleasurable, at least initially.  He tries to make it sound as if the rewards of working for him are greater than those to be received from serving the Lord.  Of course, the truth is that they are not – in fact there is no comparison.  In the end you’re a slave working for nothing at all, and the retirement vacation he advertised as warm and balmy turns out to be an eternal sweat shop in which you get “no rest, day or night.”

Moses was able to see through all that.  “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Today Satan places the modern treasures of Egypt before us every day.  He would like us to think that the glittering pleasures of sin are worth pursuing, and that a life of simple faith and service has nothing to offer.  Friends, read carefully between the lines of his HELP WANTED advertisement.  If you are serving the Master, keep your job!  Look to the reward!

 — Steve Klein

Facing Temptation?

 cat temptation There is no sin in being tempted.  Everyone is.  Even Jesus was  (Hebrews 4:15).  John Wycliffe was of the opinion that “the holiest and highest in life have the most temptations. How much higher the hill is, so much is the wind there greater; so, how much higher the life is, so much the stronger is the temptation of the enemy.” He may well have been right.  The godliest of lives was not an untested life, rather it was a life that faced temptation in all points, “yet without sin.”

  So, you are tempted. Like every man. “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). The question is, “How are you going to deal with it?”

  There are two lies Satan would like you to believe when you’re dealing with temptation.  The first is that, “Just once won’t hurt.” The second, after you’ve given into temptation, is that “You have ruined your life; you are useless and beyond God’s help, and you might as well just go on sinning.”

   In reality, just once WILL HURT!  It will hurt because the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23).  It will likely hurt your conscience, your influence and your sense of self worth.  It will hurt because it will weaken you and make you more susceptible to other temptations in the future.   If we can resist temptation to begin with, much “hurt” can be averted. 

  But if you have given in, don’t give up!  There is still hope for living a righteous life.  What is true in war is also true in our struggle with Satan — You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it!  God will enable your victory.  Some of the greatest lives ever lived were lived by men who had once committed grievous sins.  Peter told Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).  Paul declared that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).   But when sin was at its strongest, grace was stronger still.  “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).    

  Are you facing temptation?  We all are.  Let us face it courageously, with our heads up, swords drawn, eyes clear.  Have you succumbed to temptation?  Don’t despair!  The Lord takes fallen soldiers and helps them up, cleans them up and stands them up.  Trust Him.  By faith we stand.  Respond to Satan’s brief triumph in the words of the prophet of old, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise” (Micah 7:8).

~ Steve Klein