One does not have to do very much research before finding out that crime figures of all types are tied in with gambling. Gambling has become a “respectable” (?) and very popular sin within our society, and each year it makes more and more people its prisoner. Instead of being encouraged, gambling needs to be exposed for the menace to society that it is.

Gambling Defined

Gambling has been defined over the years as risking what is yours to get what belongs to someone else with no service rendered and no merchandise exchanged. Thomas F. Eaves defined gambling as follows:

“A simple definition of gambling would be, desiring the possession or possessions of another (prize) the gambler creates a risk (that of losing his own possession) in an attempt through chance to gain the possession or possessions of another with nothing given in exchange. Gambling takes many forms: cards games, dice, numbers, betting on elections, buying sweepstakes tickets, betting on horse races, slot machines, betting on sporting events, various types of sports pools, punch board, bingo (for money or prizes), buying tickets in raffles, betting on recreational activities, matching for cokes, and even pitching pennies. It should be also noted that whether you are gambling or not does not depend upon the amount you are risking. It may be five thousand or five dollars, it may be fifty cents or one cent — the principle is the same, only the amount differs (Thomas F. Eaves, Gambling And The Bible, Fort Worth: Star Bible Publications, n.d., Tract No. 77, p. 5).”

There have always been members of the Lord’s church argue that some things should not be considered gambling because the amount risked is insignificant. The flaw with such reasoning is that the meaning of “significant” is apt to change from person to person. A millionaire might not consider losing 1,000 dollars a significant loss, but a college student would probably consider such a loss to be extremely significant. Some justify participating in that which constitutes gambling because the proceeds go to “a good cause.” The “end” now suddenly justifies the “means.” It matters neither the amount nor the cause; gambling is wrong!

Gambling And Taking Risks

Supporters of gambling like to contend that all of life is a gamble. They say that where “chance” is involved gambling occurs. Athens Clay Pullias addresses this charge as follows:

“The gambler often justifies his gambling by saying that everything in life involves chance, or he may say that everything we do involves risk and danger. These things, of course, are true. What then is the clear line of distinction between gambling which is a vicious and corrupting sin, and the taking of risks that are essential to productive living? Gambling differs in that it involves the creation of unnecessary risks, which may endanger financial security. The creation of these risks undermines, and eventually will destroy the Christian virtues of productive work, thrift, and the desire to earn what one claims the right to have. Gambling is sinful because it involves the desire to obtain something for nothing, which itself is a violation of Christian ethics (Athens Clay Pullias, What Is Gambling, Nashville: Tract by author, pp. 1-2).”

Thus, the farmer who plants crops in anticipation of selling them, and the investor in stock and bonds who seeks to make a profit, are not gambling. Athens Pullias suggests that this area becomes much clearer if one asks certain questions. He writes:

“The line between the wickedness of gambling and the hazards of investment is unmistakably clear. You can always tell the difference by asking a few simple questions: Is this an investment with reasonable prospects for productive results in goods or services? Will this action create a risk that did not exist in the hope of obtaining something for nothing and without producing anything good (Pullias, p. 3)?”

Biblical Principles That Oppose Gambling

The Stewardship Principle.

God reminds us that the earth and all that it contains belong to him. The Psalmist stated, “The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1). Christians are commanded to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). The Lord taught that there will come a day in which we will give an account of our stewardship (Luke 16:1-2). Paul makes it clear that “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Christians do not have the right to waste, squander, or gamble away that which the Lord has entrusted to them.  Many spend money needed for clothing and food for their families on lottery tickets in hope of “striking it rich.” It is often times the case that those who can least afford to lose their money are the one’s who are the most addicted to gambling. The gambling industry would not be the billion-dollar business it is were it not for people’s bad stewardship and greed.

The Work Principle.

Many gamble hoping to strike it rich or at least win enough money so they will not have to work. The Bible says that the lazy person who will not work should not eat. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Those that subscribe to the philosophy of “wanting something for nothing” violate the work principle given by God.

The Slave Principle.

The words are very familiar that those suffering from addiction utter. “I can quit smoking, drinking, or gambling anytime I want to.” But check with those gamblers who have lost their families and jobs! They became slaves to a sinful habit that wrecked them financially, and destroyed their families. The apostle Paul said,  “I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Unlawful habits such as gambling are always condemned by the Bible, but the Christian is even to be in control of habits that are godly and right!

The Covetousness Principle.

The Bible contains many warnings against covetousness because it is impossible for a covetous person to go to heaven (Ephesians 5:5). The book of Proverbs addresses a covetous spirit by saying:

“So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; It taketh away the life of the owners thereof (Proverbs 1:19). The desire of the sluggard killeth him; For his hands refuse to labor. There is that coveteth greedily all the day long; But the righteous giveth and withholdeth not (Proverbs 21:25-26). Weary not thyself to be rich; Cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings, Like an eagle that flieth toward heaven (Proverbs 23:4-5). Remove far from me falsehood and lies; Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is needful for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, And use profanely the name of my God (Proverbs 30:8-9).”

The apostle Paul says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfilment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10). Even if folks agree to steal from one another it does not make it right! Christians will not covet that which is in the possession of others, and will strive to seek his neighbor’s best spiritual interest.

The Abstain From All Appearance Of Evil Principle.

Crime, violence, and gambling go hand in hand. Christians are commanded to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Crimes and gambling are evil works condemned by God’s word, and a Christian must never aid or have fellowship with “an unfruitful work of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). Members of the church who endorse any type of gambling are wrong and need to repent! It makes no difference if is a “cakewalk” for the school carnival, a “raffle ticket” benefiting the police or firemen, or a “lottery ticket” for one’s own personal use. Many voted in favor of the “state lottery” because they promised tax revenues would be generated to improve education and build better schools. With the success the lottery has been in Texas, one could reasonably conclude that the school tax will no longer be necessary. Well, think again, because such has not been the case! And, even if the lottery did reduce our tax obligations, it is still wrong to do that which is evil to promote good (Romans 3:8).


Our Lord warned of the danger that is inherent with material things. He said to his disciples, “It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24). Paul taught the Colossian brethren to “put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6). Paul also warned that the love of money would be the downfall of many. He spoke of the:

“wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content. But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Timothy 6:5-11).

The charge given to those blessed with an abundance of this world’s goods is “that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Christians should take seriously the promise made by the inspired writer of Hebrews, “Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

Materialism has consumed many, and they do not even realize they are lost! May we guard against what we have an abundance of in this country. The sobering words of Jesus should remind us of what is truly valuable. He says for the benefit of all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life” (Matthew 16:24-26)?

Please e-mail me (Marvin L. Weir) if you have any questions:

5810 Liberty Grove Road
Rowlett, TX 75089
(972) 475-2276

©2001 This paper may be freely distributed as long as there is no cost to others and no changes to the content of any material in this paper.

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