Gambling: Biblical Problems & Answers
Pastor R. Hammond. Long Hill Baptist Church, Trumbull, CT.
This article provides an outline of (1) why gambling is a problem and (2) how people can escape the temptation to continue gambling.
Gambling involves seeking to realize material gain by placing money or other property at risk of loss without a reasonable expectation of achieving any gain.
Did you know? In 2017, the odds of winning the Connecticut Lotto jackpot were 1 in 7,059,052. The odds of winning just $2,000 were 1 in 30,961. The odds of winning $50 is were 1 in 669. Even the odds of winning just $2 were just 1 in 42! The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot were 1 in 292,201,338.
Other common forms of gambling include: casino games and slot machines, lotteries, betting on card games, sports-betting, jai alai, betting on horse / dog races, online gambling (online poker, slots or keno). Bingo, raffles and scratch-off cards are gambling, too!
What are some practical problems with casino gambling? (Source: The Washington Post, https://www.WashingtonPost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/10/30/studies-casinos-bring-jobs-but-also-crime-bankruptcy-and-even-suicide/?utm_term=.2d301ab2f439, Accessed October 2017.)
- “casinos … lead to a plethora of social ills, including increased substance abuse, mental illness and suicide, violent crime, auto theft and larceny, and bankruptcy. The latter three all increased by 10 percent in communities that allowed gambling.”
- “The National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that having a casino within 50 miles doubles one's likelihood to become a problem gambler.”
- “…much if not most of the gambling industry's revenue come from addicts. (One researcher) estimates that 52 percent of revenue at the typical casino comes from problem gamblers, while an Ontario study put the figure at 35 percent and a Louisiana one at 42 percent.
While gambling does generate jobs and tax revenues, it is hard to argue that the practical benefits outweighs the costs.
A common defense of participating in gambling: Some say, “It’s ok for me to gamble because the Bible does not expressly prohibit gambling.” We note that the Bible does not expressly disallow using heroine! Yet choosing to use heroine would violate biblical principles including: obedience to civil authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; Tit. 3:1; 1 Pe. 2:13-17; Mat. 22:21), our call to live soberly, righteously, and godly (Titus 2:12), stewardship (of our life), and yielding control (Eph. 5:18).
What are some biblical principles that relate to gambling?
- Gambling is potentially addictive. As such, participating in gambling is inconsistent with our call to be controlled by the Holy Spirit rather than addictive activities.
- Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
- 1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
- Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
- Gambling necessarily involves poor stewardship of God’s provision.
- Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
- Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 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. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant…
3. Gambling is often motivated by a lack of trust in God (Gambling on probabilities vs. trusting in God’s promises).
- 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
- Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on ….26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
4. Participation in gambling often reflects a sinful discontentment in our hearts
- Hebrews 13:5 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.
- Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
5. Participation in gambling may reflect that we have wrong master!
- Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (WEALTH OR GETTING OF WEALTH).
6. Participation in gambling may reflect that we have the wrong love
- Matthew 22:37 Jesus said … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
- 1 Timothy 6:10 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.
- 2 Peter 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 2:16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
7. Participating in gambling may reflect a heart that is filled with sinful greed.
Observe the misery of greed:
- Proverbs 15:27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house …
- Proverbs 21:25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. 26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
- Ecclesiastes 5:10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
- (Judas) Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him…. 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
8. The desire to gamble often reflects a heart filled with sinful covetousness.
- Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
- Proverbs 28:16b … he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
- Luke 12:15 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.
- Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 ….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.
- Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members … covetousness, which is idolatry:
The key to overcoming covetousness: Hebrews 13:5 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.
9. Gambling often involves associating with other types of sin, e.g. intoxication, worldly entertainment, immodesty and even prostitution.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
- 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
- 1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications (bad company) corrupt good manners (good character)
There is biblical help for people who are tempted to gamble.
1. Understand that Christ is able to deliver believers from any temptation – including the temptation to gamble.
- Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. … 26:41a Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation…
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
- Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest (Christ) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Dr. Randy Starr offers this advice as “God’s remedy for gambling.” (Source: Gambling: What the Bible Says)
1. Be sure that you know Jesus Christ as your Savior; Ask him for forgiveness.
- John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (rely upon / trust in) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
- Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him … for he will abundantly pardon.
- 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2. Agree with God and do right (Determine to forsake the sin of gambling)
- John 8:11 (Jesus said) … Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
- Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin…? 2 God forbid…
3. Alter your associations, access and ability (to gamble)
- Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh …
4. Be accountable to your pastor
- Hebrews 13:17a Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls…
- James 5:16a Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another…
- Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
5. Attend every services at your church
- Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
6. Allocate a daily time alone with God
- Psalm 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice… James 5:16b The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
- 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
- John 17:17 (Jesus prayed) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Finally, observe the "put-off / put-on principle": Ephesians 4:22 ....put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Please contact us if you would like to receive additional help overcoming the temptation to gamble.
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