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  Does the Bible say that gambling is a sin?


  Thank you so much for your question on gambling. I thought the subject was so interesting, that I used it for the Sunday morning message at our church.

  Just the fact that you would ask such a question indicates to me that you believe, as I do, that Godís Word is our owner's manual and has the answers for all matters of faith and practice.

  First of all, the direct answer to your question:

  I do not find any Scriptures indicating that gambling, in itself, is sin against God.

  Gambling, in itself, would not be a sin in the same way that the drinking of alcoholic beverages in moderation is not sin. Jesus gives us this principal in Mark 7:18-23 :

"18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."

  Drinking alcoholic beverages is not, in itself, a sin, but there is a danger that the drinking of it can cause a Christian to commit the sins listed in Mark 7:21 & 22 above.

  On the other hand, drunkenness is stated to be sin. Ephesians 5:18 states:

  "18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit;"

  Any addiction, where we lose our self control and are under itís addictive power, is certainly sin. Gal 5:22 & 23 lists the fruit (production) of the Spirit of God in the Christian life. Underneath the word "temperance" in verse 23, in the King James Version, is the Greek word "egkrateia", which means "self control". Addictions can cause us to commit personal sins, but when we as Christians are "in fellowship", and are controlled by the Spirit of God, we exhibit "self control".

  Seeking wealth for wealthís sake is condemned, 1 Tim 6:9&10, Prov 23:4, and James 5:1-6. So, gambling to get rich would be sin. We are told to mind our own business and work with our own hands, 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

  Anything done in faith is not sin, Rom 14:17-23, but, Paul says he will not allow himself to be brought under the power of (addicted to) anything. 1 Cor 6:12.

  One of the first results of addiction is to not take proper care of our immediate families, which is sin, 1 Tim 5:8.

  The bottom line:

  1. Addictions are sin, in that we are "out of control". Gal 5:23.

  2. Disobeying national, local, school, and parental laws and rules is sin, Eph 6:1, Rom 13:1-5.

  3. Seeking wealth, for wealthís sake, is sin. 1 Tim 6:9 & 10.

  4. The principles of Christian stewardship condemn compulsive gambling, 1 Pet 4:10.

  5. God Himself is in charge of who wins and loses in games of chance. Proverbs 22:2.

  6. The answer for the Christian who is addicted, who wants to please God, is Christian growth, through maximum intake of Godís Word, and learning to walk in and be controlled by Godís Spirit. Galatians 5:16:

  "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh".

  7. The answer for the unsaved is professional counciling, and, of course, to become saved.

  Secondly, and interestingly, what the Bible does say about "gambling":

  Using devices of "chance", casting "lots", "drawing straws", etc. in the Bible, and in ancient times, was a method of asking Almighty God for an answer, in the deciding of doubtful questions.

  1. The first reference to "lots" is in Leviticus 16:6-10, where God Himself commanded Aaron the high priest of Israel to "cast lots" concerning two goats in the temple worship. One goat was to be sacrificed and the other released, and called the "scapegoat". (That's where we get our modern saying "scapegoat")

  2. In Joshua 18:4-6, Joshua cast lots to determine which parts of the land of Israel each tribe would live in.

  3. 1 Samuel 14:38-44, King Saul asked God to control the lots as he tried to determine who had sinned. The lot correctly fell on his son Jonathan.

  4. Jonah 1:7, Jonah is on board the ship attempting to flee from God, and a great storm arose. The sailors on board sensed that such a great storm was due the sin of someone on board, so they cast lots to see who had sinned. Of course, the lot fell on Jonah, and they threw him overboard.

  5. Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord". God is in absolute charge of every detail of this planet. Everything that happens is either caused by, or allowed by Almighty God:

     a. Exodus 4:11, God is in charge of birth defects. (That's why we give thanks to God for the human bodies that we and our children have)

     b. Job 28:26, God decreed where every lightening bolt would strike throughout history. Thatís why we call it "an act of God".

     c. Psa 75:6&7, Our promotions come from God.

     d. Psa 29:9, God causes the wild deer to conceive and give birth.

     e. Psa 147:1-11, God causes the grass to grow and feeds the wild animals.

     f. Psa 148:8, God is in control of the weather and uses it to fulfil His will.

     g. Prov 21:1, "The kingís heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will."

     h. Prov 22:2, "The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all".

     i. Isa 46:10, God knows everything from eternity past and his decrees will stand.

     j. Dan 2:21, God removes kings and he sets up kings.

     k. Dan 4:35, God does his will in heaven and earth.

     l. Eph 1:11, God is working all things according to the decree from his own will.

     m. Romans 8:28, God is working all things for good, for those who love him and are the called according to his purpose.

   6. Proverbs 18:18, "The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty". (Flip of the coin or drawing straws to solve an argument)

   7. Of course, the casting of lots at the foot of the Cross, by the Roman soldiers, to see who would win the robe of Christ, Matthew 27:35. This was prophesied to happen in Psalm 22:18. Amazing prophecy!

   I believe that more spiritual harm than good is done by being a "hardline tee-totaler" on issues where Godís Word is not. Godís Word teaches us the dangers of excess, and the benefit of self control.

   I myself choose not to drink or gamble. I choose the "high" of a good tennis match, and games that require mental strength to win. But I do not condemn alcohol or gambling in moderation, because the Scripture does not. I have Christian friends who set an entertainment budget and enjoy a night at the dog track. Thatís between them and God and does not come between us, even though I see a danger in such things.

   I have also heard it said that our state sponsored Lotteries are a "tax on people who donít understand math". I choose not to pay that tax :-)

   The Bible does not condemn gambling, but I personally believe we would be wise to teach our children the very real dangers of gambling and the value of games of skill.

   I sincerely hope and pray that this sufficiently answers your question.

   Written in Christian love,

   Bob Jones