Gambling is Sinful

Introduction: Where did sin go? We live in an age that refuses to recognize sin for what it really is. We refuse to call that which sin, sinful, evil and wrong. When the abhorrence of sin is minimized, the seduction of sin is maximized. Homosexuals are called "gay" and it is said they have an "alternate lifestyle." Drunks are not called "drunks" but "alcoholics." Adultery is called "playing around" or having an "affair." Liars are no longer liars but those who "exaggerate" or "shade the truth." A whore is called a "lady of the evening." And greed is praised as aggressive business or worshiped as harmless weekend recreation.

Jesus never minced words in condemning sin or sinners. In Matthew 23, Jesus did not use any euphemisms in describing and condemning the Pharisees. Jesus identified them for what they were: liars, hypocrites, blind guides and fools. There are many today who would cringe at such preaching. Unfortunately, this includes some brethren. "Don't say it that way; don't call names," they would say. If these folks had their way Jesus would have told the Pharisees politely that they were "prevaricators, pretenders, leaders without vision and they failed to use good judgment.

Isaiah had strong words for those who said unto the prophets, "speak unto us smooth things." These were a "rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord" (Isa. 30:9-10). Isaiah declared, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).

Malachi said the Lord is wearied by those who say "Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them . . . " (Mal. 2:17). Jesus warned us about "that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Lk. 16:15). Paul explained, "(1) This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:1-4).

Sin is real, very real. And sin will condemn and destroy.

God's Word condemns gambling as sin and it will just as surely condemn your soul as surely as any other sin.

What is gambling? "The act or practice of betting: the act of playing a game and consciously risking money or other stakes on its outcome" (Webster's Third New International Dictionary [unabridged] p. 932). But I don't really have to define gambling.

We all know what gambling is. It is risking money on the result of a game with the desire of winning more money.

It is not a new problem by any means. The Greeks in Homer's time had knucklebones from sheep and goats that were marked to serve as dice. A gambling board was discovered in Crete that dates back to 1800-1900 B.C. In Babylon headless arrows were used for making wagers. Children in Rome played "heads or tales" with coins. Tertullian said, "If you say that you are a Christian when you are a dice player, you say what you are not, because you are a partner with the world."

For most of the history of this country, gambling has been condemned as morally wrong and a social evil. Gambling has been promoted among certain religious circles as a means of "charity."

Using this "Trojan horse" gambling has been promoted and legalized around the country as a means of raising government revenue. In ancient Rome, the emperors used "bread and circuses" to entertain, divert and appease the people. Now many states use "lotteries and casinos" to indulge the base passions and greed of people.

I. Gambling is a Love of Money

A. Gambling is sinful because it is motivated by greed, covetousness and a love of money.

1. Whatever happened to the sin of greed and covetousness?

2. Few discuss, warn or even speak of greed and covetousness.

3. You would think that there is not even such a sin.

4. "Greed" is an eager desire for base gain.

"Covetousness" is translated from two Greek words. One means a "greedy desire to have

more." The second literally means "loving money."

B. If there is such a sin as greed and covetousness, then gambling is a prime example of this sin.

1. How do you know gambling is motivated by greed? Just look at and listen to the advertisements.

a. I was living in Florida when the state lottery was setup. Billboards boasted how much money one could win. Radio and television ads asked people to imagine what they could do with a million dollars.

b. Why would anyone want to spend a weekend in the state of Mississippi in the Mississippi delta? Certainly not for the scenery, for the food or just to relax. The casinos entice people to come and gamble their paychecks away with the chance that they might just hit a big jackpot!

2. Some may argue that gambling is not motivated by greed. There is any easy way to prove otherwise.

a. If gambling is not motivated by greed then simply replace the gambling for money with a game of numbers without any money jackpot. Let people buy a set of numbers, then choose the winning number to see who won just for fun!

b. Let people buy brightly colored cards to scrape off the coverings to reveal numbers underneath, not for money, but just to see if they can match the right number.

c. Let people drop quarters and dollars in slot machines just to watch the bright symbols run around and see if they can line up three jackpots. But no money.

d. Let all those casinos in the delta simply attract people to come for the food, a hotel room and some games, but no gambling. See how long those casinos stay open.

e. If people simply like to watch horses or greyhounds race then close down the gambling and see how many people stay around to watch animals run around a dirt track.

f. Gambling is about greed. It is about a "love of money." It is about covetousness.

C. Beware of Covetousness

1. Jesus' tells us to beware of covetousness. "(13) And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. (14) And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? (15) And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Lk. 12:13-15).

2. Why beware of covetousness? Those who are greedy:

a. They trouble their house. "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live" (Prov. 15:27).

1) Just as the family of Achan. He coveted (Joshua 7:21) and took the forbidden riches of Jericho. He first brought trouble upon the nation of Israel, then his greed brought trouble his own house. He and his whole family were stoned to death.

2) Just ask the family of the gambler. He covets the money of others in the "jackpot" and spends his paycheck while his own children go without.

b. They are never satisfied. "(10) He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. (11) 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? (12) The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep" (Eccl. 5:10-12).

c. They shall fall. "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch" (Prov. 11:28).

d. They will end up with nothing. "There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches" (Prov. 13:7).

3. Covetousness is sinful and will condemn to Hell.

a. "(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" (Mk. 7:21-23).

b. The love of money is the root of all evil!

"(9) 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. (10) 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. (11) But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1 Tim. 6:6-11).

c. "(9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

d. "(5) Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (6) For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience" (Col. 3:5-6).

4. Covetousness is not to be among God's people.

a. Elders and deacons are not to be "greedy of filthy lucre" or "covetous" (1 Tim. 3:3, 8).

b. Neither is any other Christian to be covetous. "(3) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; (4) Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (5) For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. 5:3-5).

5. If a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses, what does a man's life consist of?

a. "Whoever finishes with the most toys wins."

b. "(26) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Mt. 16:26-27).

II. Gambling Violates Honest Gain

A. How shall we determine the right ways to gain wealth?

1. If unlimited, we may gain it in any manner: stealing, fraud, extortion, etc.

2. If limited, Scriptures set the limits. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him" (Col. 3:17).

3. The Scriptures give us four means of gaining

a. By honest work -- Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:l0-12

b. By fair exchange -- Acts 5:3-4

c. By investment -- Matthew 25:14-30

d. By gift -- Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28

4. Gambling fits none of these and violates at least:

a. It seeks wealth without work.

b. It seeks something for nothing.

c. It seeks to take what others do not want to

B. God commands gain by honest labor.

1. "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" (Eph. 4:28).

2. "In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury" (Prov. 14:23).

C. God condemns those who will not work.

1. "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" (1 Tim. 5:8).

2. "(10) For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (11) For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (12) Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread" (2 Thess. 3:10-12).

D. How do you know whether one's attitude toward money and work is proper?

1. Go to their "field." "(30) I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; (31) And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. (32) Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. (33) Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: (34) So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man" (Prov. 24:30-34).

2. Visit their "crib." "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox" (Prov. 14:4).

E. The result of diligent work?

1. "He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough" (Prov. 28:19).

2. "Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men" (Prov. 22:29).

III. Gambling Violates Unselfish Love

A. Christians are to love unselfishly.

  1. We must love all people (Mt. 5:43-48).
  2. Love is manifested by giving, not gambling.

"(16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:16-18).

3. We must not be selfish

a. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

b. "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Phil. 2:4).

4. We must desire to earn what we receive. "Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you" (2 Thess. 3:8).

B. Gambling is selfishness.

1. "And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness" (Ezk. 33:31).

2. "He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. (Prov. 21:26).

3. "(33) I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. (34) Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. (35) I 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" (Acts 20:33-35).

IV. Gambling Violates Godliness with Contentment

A. We need to learn to be content with what we have.

1. "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" (Heb. 13:5).

2. "(6) But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (1 Tim. 6:6-8).

3. "(4) Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. (5) Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven" (Prov. 23:4-5).

B. Better to be poor with love. "(16) Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. (17) Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith" (Prov. 15:16-17).

V. Gambling Violates Good Stewardship

A. God expects us to be faithful stewards of that with which we have been blessed.

1. "And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?" (Luke 12:42).

2. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10).

3. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2).

4. Just think about it. How would you like for someone you had entrusted with $1000 to gamble with it?

B. A good steward will:

1. Wisely plan. "The thoughts (plans) of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want" (Prov. 21:5).

2. Watch carefully. "(23) Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. (24) For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? (25) The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. (26) The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. (27) And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens" (Prov. 27:23-27).

3. Seek advice.

a. "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they are established" (Prov. 15:22).

b. Seek out and talk to those who know how to spend and use money wisely.

4. Plan for your children.

a. There is a popular bumper sticker which reads, "I'm spending all my children's inheritance." This is exactly contrary to the wisdom of God.

b. "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Prov. 13:22).

c. A wise man plans his finances to provide for his children and leave them an inheritance.

Too many are planning for their retirement and not for their children.

C. Gamblers wastes and squanders what he has.

  1. Every gambler is a loser.
  2. John W. "bet a million" Gates used to play bridge for $1000 a point, match pennies for $1000 a turn, wager $80,000 on a poker hand and bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on horse races. His advice was "Don't gamble, don't bet on cards, don's bet on horse races, don't throw dice." The reason? Well, he learned about stewardship the hard way; he died broke in 1911.

3. Gambling is foolish and sinful squandering of God's blessings. "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up" (Prov. 21:20).

a. Alcohol is money foolishly spent. It is likely pouring money down the drain.

b. Cigarettes is money foolishly spent. Cigarettes provide neither food or clothing, instead money that could be spent for life's necessities is burned up. You might as well wrap up your money and burn it.

c. Gambling is money foolishly spent. One employee at a Seven Eleven, convenience store, was lamenting that he had spent a lot of money on the lottery and had won only a few dollars back. I told him I had won a lot. He looked at me surprised and asked, "How much have you won?" "I have won all the money I didn't waste buying lottery tickets."

VI. Objections

A. Gambling is not mentioned by name.

  1. The word "gambling" is not in the Bible.
  2. Neither are the words rape, larceny or homosexuality. Are these not wrong and sins?

3. Because a particular word is not mentioned does not mean the action is not sinful and condemned.

4. "(19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).

5. We have shown that greed, covetousness and the "love of money" are clearly condemned by God. Gambling is "such like."

B. They gambled in the Bible.

1. Some may argue gambling is not in the Bible, others will argue that it is okay because they gambled in the Bible. They usually say "casting lots" is gambling.

2. The casting of lots was not gambling, but a means of making a decision. We never read of money or possessions put at risk or wagered.

3. For example: Lots were cast to choose between Joseph and Matthias as an apostle in Acts 1:26. The apostles did not gamble for money.

C. Everything is a risk.

1. Okay, so what does this prove? Everything may be a risk, but not everything is gambling. And not every risk is sinful, but gambling is.

2. Some have tried to justify gambling on the basis that it is merely a risk, and after all, we all take risks every day like crossing the street. If you make it across the street you do not stand to gain at the loss of another. There has been no stake or wager placed. If you were to wager $5.00 that you could cross the street without getting hit, you now have gambling.

3. Some have tried to compare gambling to farming and the risks involved there. Yet, the farmer is not seeking to gain at the loss of another. If he has a good year, all stand to benefit by that. If he doesn't, all stand to lose. The Bible commends farming as honest labor, gambling is clearly not honest labor.

4. Buying and selling stock is an investment, not gambling. When you buy stock you have bought something of value. It may increase or decrease in value. If that business thrives then all will benefit. However, one could gamble with reference to the stock market as he could on a ball game or horse race. If one bet $50.00 that the stock in a certain company will go up tomorrow, he is now gambling. Again, the Bible commends honest and wise investment. Gambling is clearly not an investment, nor is it honest or wise

5. A few have tried to suggest there is no difference in gambling and buying insurance. Insurance is a honest business transaction, not gambling. The company sells a product and the buyer is buying financial protection. The buyer and the company both gain by the purchase of the policy. The risk that is involved is not created by the buying of the insurance.

6. Prizes are gifts not gambling. When one registers to win a prize at a store's grand opening or receives a prize that is given away for advertisement, he is not gambling. Businesses will give prizes to advertise or promote their products or services.

D. But its legal.

  1. Making a sin legal does not keep it from sinful.
  2. Private drunkenness is legal, does this mean it is not sinful?

3. Adultery, fornication and homosexuality is legal, are these not sins?

4. In parts of this country and in some other countries prostitution is legal, does this mean that God accepts prostitution?

5. Making gambling legal does not make it good and righteous conduct.

E. But its consensual.

1. Because an activity is consensual does not make it good.

2. Many sins are consensual, adultery, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality.

F. But it is for a good cause?

1. Making gambling for religion or charity does not make it right.

2. Just because a religion sponsors gambling does not make it right. What if a religion has a brewery and sells alcohol.

3. "And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just" (Rom. 3:8).


Gambling is a damnable sin. We must carefully abstain from it and oppose it in all its forms (Eph. 5:11). "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints" (Eph. 5:3). "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" (Heb. 13:5).

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By Wayne Greeson

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