What Does the Bible Say About Gambling?

Is Gambling a Sin?

The Scripture does not directly condemn the act of gambling. However, there are several scriptures which give clear indication that a Christian should not be involved in gambling or trying to get “something for nothing.”

One Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from every form of evil.” In the United States, the civil laws prohibit gambling in most states. There are social and oral connotations against gambling. Furthermore, there are ethical implications that would prohibit a Christian from becoming involved in money gambling which would violate the Judeo-Christian work ethic.

The book of Proverbs chapter 1, verses 10 through 19, gives clear admonition against a believer becoming involved or associated with evil people who would seek greedy gain without honest labor:

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.” (Proverbs 1:10-19).

A passage of Scripture which illustrates the folly of the “easy living philosophy” is Luke chapter 15, verses 11 through 32, the parable of the prodigal son. Notice in verse 13 that the son gathered all of his inheritance and ” squandered his property in reckless living.” This could be interpreted: living the “easy life.” His wicked conduct was willful and inexcusable and he soon found that the “easy life” was actually the “worse life.”

The Lord Jesus gave clear indication in His teaching that His followers were to take up their cross daily and follow Him. He promises that those that would follow Him would not have an “easy life,” but “an abundant life.”

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

While the act of gambling isn’t a sin, typically the intentions behind it are. Gambling usually indicates a love for money, and the Bible says that it’s impossible for us to love both money and God. Matthew 6:20 tells us to store up treasures in Heaven, and not on Earth. Everything here will pass away, including money. Gambling isn’t a sin, but it’s near impossible to separate gambling from the love of money. For this reason, it is something that all believers should avoid.

Bible Verses To Consider Regarding Gambling

  • Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • 1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 – He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
  • Proverbs 13:11 – Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
  • Matthew 6:19-24 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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