Ephesians 5:3-5 “But fornication,
and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as
becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor
jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5For
this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is
an idolater, hath any inheritance in the
Matthew 6:19-20 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
As a people does this present generation have a problem with covetousness? What about in our fair city? What has been done during the past twenty-five or so years? Not only in this city but across our nation, we have brought the sin of gambling out of the back alleys, out of the smoke filled back rooms of backstreet taverns, spruced it up; dressed it in a new politically correct false front and start calling it the gaming industry. Part of the result of that we have become tolerant of this sin and many no longer recognize is as sin. We have started treating it as a legitimate business to be made available to all who would participate. We’ve even invented ways to justify its existence, such as allocating some portion of the proceeds to education, or some other worthy purpose in order to get people to accept it.
What is gambling? If you want a dictionary definition its: “1.) to play at a game of chance for money or other stakes 2.) to stake or risk something of value, as money, on the outcome of something involving chance 3.) to lose or squander by betting 4.) to wager or risk something of value 5.) to take a chance on; risk 6.) any matter or thing involving risk or hazardous uncertainty.” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1997). It doesn’t matter what form it takes. It can be the postage stamp lottery, spending that postage stamp to enter a sweepstakes, buying raffle tickets, even for a good cause, or lottery tickets are all gambling along with the various games of chance presented by casinos, horse tracks, dog tracks, poker parlors, bingo halls or any game of chance played for money or anything of else of value.
Why do people like to gamble? Greed, something for nothing, thrill of taking a chance, and I’m sure there are more. Very few gamble just for entertainment, oh they will say they do, but many are hooked and refuse to admit it. And it’s so easy if you place yourself in the right position. The games themselves can become addictive. That’s one of the things I learned the hard way as a teenager.
But when we say that gambling is wrong; some people will challenge us with some of the following statements:
All life is a gamble – well is it? What does God have to say about it?
Ecclesiastes 9:11 “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
Are the things that happen to us in life the result of a gamble or are they primarily of our own making and just part of life?
Some would have us believe that farming is a gamble; but is it? After destroying the earth by water God made this promise:
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis
So is farming really a gamble? How can it be when God’s in control of the outcome and provides by His providence the bounty of our land?
Psalms 24:1-2 “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
Psalms 104:14 “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;”
Some will have us to believe that buying insurance is a gamble, but is it? The proceeds from insurance or investments in the stock market or other financial instruments are not based upon pure chance. But gambling is. If your investment and insurance is based on pure chance; then I can assure you that you have a major problem, your future livelihood or the livelihood of your family is at great risk. But rather these things are the means by which we purchase part of companies or lend money to try to preserve what we have for our retirement or try to provide for our families as we’re are instructed by Paul’s implication:
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” I Timothy 5:8
What Does the Bible Say?
You say that gambling is scripturally wrong but we have no commandment; “Thou shalt not gamble”. Our wayward brethren who subscribe to the “new hermeneutic”, if they really believe what they teach, would say that since it isn’t specifically forbidden by scripture then it can not be wrong. But let’s examine some biblical principles and ask a few questions:
1.) Does gambling violate the principle of stewardship? If we are good stewards of God’s blessings, first of all we’re faithful to our Master:
I Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
I Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Who owns all of our possessions? Aren’t we just caretakers of the abundant blessings that God has provided us?
I Chronicles 29:13-14 “Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. 14But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”
Are we accountable to God for how we use the blessings he gives us? Is that not the very principle that Jesus teaches in the parable of talents?
Matthew 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
2.) Is gambling an outgrowth of covetousness? Don’t most people gamble because they want to gain the riches of this world and all the things that they will buy? Consider if you will:
Colossians 3:5-6 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,” (NKJV).
Ephesians 5:3-7 “But
fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named
among you, as becometh saints; 4Neither filthiness, nor foolish
talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5For
this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is
an idolater, hath any inheritance in the
Paul do you mean that covetousness is the same as idolatry in God’s eyes? That’s what he’s telling us, isn’t he? If we covet or worship money are we any better than the Israelites that worshiped Baal or sacrificed their children to Molech?
3.) Does gambling exhibit or display the “love of money”? What does Paul also tells about that?
I Timothy 6:9-11 “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. 10For 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.”
4.) Does gambling lend itself to addiction? If not; then why do we see the billboards alongside the highway advertising where to get help with the addiction to gambling? Why are the casinos required by law to provided those billboard warnings? Is it because that just like the warning on a pack of cigarettes that there is a danger there that prudent people will avoid. What does an addiction of any kind do to our relationship with God?
II Peter “While they promise them
Addiction is bondage isn’t it? Any of us who have had to deal with an addiction to nicotine knows that it’s bondage. It is bondage that has our minds and our bodies under its control, not our control, not God’s control under it’s control. Paul said that if he didn’t have his body under control he feared losing his soul.
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I Corinthians
5.) Is gambling laying up treasures on earth? Where is your treasure? Is it in the material things of this world or is it where as children of God it should be? Jesus said in his sermon on the mount:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
6.) “Does gambling exploit others or extort money from them for one’s own advantage? What did Paul declare and why?
Acts -35 “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I Corinthians 6:9-11 “Know
ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the
Don’t throw your relationship with God away by chasing after the riches of this world. Playing cards for entertainment is not gambling, though you won’t find deck of cards in my house; – but when a wager or a bet is placed on the outcome of something that is by chance; then it becomes gambling.
Scriptural Means of Gaining Wealth
1.) Law of Labor: Paul writes:
Ephesians 4:28 “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needetH.”
2.) Law of Exchange: The wise man Solomon writing as directed by the Holy Spirit leaves us this example in his description of a worthy woman:
Proverbs 31:16 “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.”
3.) Law of love:
Proverbs 17:8 “A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.”
Luke 14:12-14 “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Does gambling fit into any one of these categories? If not then what category does it fall into? It fits into the category of ungodliness and worldly lusts.
Titus -12 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”
Sometimes members of the church are found matching coins, placing small bets, buying lottery tickets, playing the postage stamp lottery by playing the sweepstakes that come to our mail boxes. But isn’t small time gambling still gambling just like big time gambling? Don’t gamblers, like most alcoholics, who start their addiction with just a small sip, start with just a small occasional encounter with this vice? And many mothers and fathers have taught their children to gamble in just that way. They may condemn big time gambling, the casinos, the horse and dog tracks, the video poker parlors, or whatever and plant the seed in their own back yard by buying a raffle ticket for a “good cause”, a lottery ticket or playing the sweepstakes game.
So what is the solution to this problem? How can we arm ourselves and our children against the temptation to gamble?
1.) Practice and teach our children the right things to love:
I John 2:15-17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
2.) Love and obey God’s law:
Romans 13:8-10 “Owe
no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath
fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou
shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou
shalt not covet; and if there
be any other commandment, it is
briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself. 10Love worketh no
3.) Live after the ways of the Spirit; live a spiritual life:
Romans 8:13-14 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”
4.) Trust God and follow His ways:
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
5.) Do all things in His name or by His authority:
Colossians 3:17 “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.”
6.) Like Paul did with his body bring into obedience our every thought:
II Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
7.) And lastly chose our companions, our associations, or friends by knowing that their fruit is good fruit that would be acceptable to God.
Matthew 7:17-20 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
Gambling, has been brought out of the back street bars, and back allies, politically sanitized and now is politically correct as the gaming industry. But God’s laws have not changed; God’s attitude toward this sin is still the same today as it was 2000 or 6000 years ago. And it is not something that a faithful child of his can participate in and remain faithful.
There may be those that have not named the name of Christ in confession, (Romans ); repented of past sins (Luke 13:3) or been baptized as the Ethiopian nobleman was (Acts -39), if so you need to do that now. There may also be those who are already children of God who need to come to God in repentance and prayer (James ).