Is Gambling a Sin?

    by: Pastor Don Guthrie

This is a question asked by many in the Christian community, and one which cannot be answered easily. Yet, it’s
my opinion, formed from biblical study, and interpretation, that any form of gambling is something Jesus would not
desire his followers to do. If that is the case, the practice of Gambling would be sinful.

Before one starts gambling, there are certain questions they should consider.

  •   Why do you want to gamble?
  •  Is gambling going to be beneficial to you and your family?
  •  Is gambling constructive?
  •  When you gamble, are you being a good witness for Jesus?
  •  Would Jesus have bought a lottery tickets, bet on a horse race or done any other form of gambling?

There are many in the Christian community today, who believe it’s OK to gamble, as long they don’t take away
from their family while doing so. Others think it’s OK as long as they have set limits on how much they’re willing to
lose. Whereas others have been caught up in gambling, who can’t afford to lose money, and as a result, they,
along with their families, have suffered greatly.

Gambling has a way of appealing to the greed in our sinful nature and often leads us down the path of destruction,
and sin.


It’s true, there’s no commandment in the bible that says, “Thou shall not gamble,” but it’s implied numerous times in
various ways. For instance, gambling is contrary to the biblical principle of working in order to supply for our needs
and the needs of our family. But then, that’s the main reason why people gamble. They gamble with the hope of
“striking it big” and being able to give their family everything they want and never have to work again.

When Jesus was here, he had nothing, not even a home where he could lay his head. Would he desire for us to
be rich?

Christ taught a lot about being riches, and gave numerous illustrations concerning the rich man. One such
illustration is found in the following scripture:  

    Matthew 19:16-24
    16. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what
         good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    17. And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none
         good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep
         the commandments.
    18. He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no
         murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal,
         Thou shalt not bear false witness,
    19. Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy
         neighbor as thyself.
    20. The young man said unto him, All these things have I kept
         from my youth up: what lack I yet?
    21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that
         thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
         heaven: and come and follow me.
    22. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away
         sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
    23. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a
         rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go
         through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter
         into the kingdom of God.

The rich man had a lot of money, more than enough to live on for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, that was his
problem. Even though he had a lot, more than he would ever be able to spend, he wasn’t willing to share it with the
poor beggar who lay outside his gate begging for crumbs.  

 Money has a way of making one greedy. It seems the more money one has, the more they want. Desiring a quick,
easy buck is appealing, but once we have it, we desire more. To make money the easy way, is to gain something,
we really don’t appreciate. The only money that’s appreciated is money one has to struggle and work for.  

The question has to be asked, what’s your reason for wanting the money? If you receive it, will you be willing to
share the money with others? If not, the money you receive is likely to become your god, and instead of you
controlling it, it will control you.

 Wanting a quick fix is never good, and to get one, makes us ungrateful. Unless one works for everything they
receive, their possessions means very little. When a person receives a lot for a little, they’re corrupted by what they
receive and their heart is changed. Instead of being a giver, they become a taker. Instead of loving others, they
become selfish. Instead of thinking of others, they think only of themselves.


Maybe you’re one of those people who only gamble a dollar or two a week. Maybe you’re someone who believes it’
s OK to gamble as long as it doesn’t hurt your family.  

 What happens if your children see you gambling and decide to do the same, but instead of a dollar or two, they
become addicted and lose everything they have? I ask you, who’s to blame for their gambling?

Everyone can afford to lose a dollar or two a week, that isn’t as much as many of us spend on coffee, yet what are
you gaining from it? How is it helping your family? How is it helping you? What does it say about your trust in God?

    Matthew 6:24-33
    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.
    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. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than
    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?
    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?
    32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) 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.

 It’s not what we have materially that makes us what we are it’s what we are on the inside. Is it your desire to be
rich and prosperous, or is it your desire to follow God? Is it your desire to have the finest things on earth, or are you
laying up treasures in heaven? Are you gambling away your salvation and the salvation of your family, believing
God will not punish you for gambling, or are you doing everything in your power to seek first the kingdom of God,
for yourself and every member of your family?


 There is a statement I often make about gambling. I like to say, I am batting 1000 as far as my gambling is
concerned, I haven’t bought any, I haven’t lost any, and I haven’t won any. That’s as good an average, as it gets.
Maybe you have an average that’s different than mine. Maybe you’ve won some, or lost a lot. Never the less, the
odds are against you, and the chances of your winning “the big one” is very slim.

Statistics show that you have a better chance of being killed on the way to the convenience store to buy your
lottery tickets, than of winning the multi-million dollar prize.

Take note the following odds listed in the Lottery Action Guide in 1991.

Your chances of:

            Seeing a no-hitter: 1 in 1,347.
            Having a royal flush in a poker game: 1 in 649,739.
            Having quadruplets: 1 in 705,000.
            Being struck by lightning: 1 in 1,900,000.
            Winning the California Lottery: 1 in 23,000,000.

Now, I ask you, with this kind of odds, what’s the sense in trying to win? Would it not be better to use your money
to help someone in need, to take your family on a vacation, or to pay off some of your bills?


How does it look to a non-Christian when they see a Christian buying lottery tickets or betting on horses? Does it
say that the Christian doesn’t trust God to care for them, like the bible says? Does it show how big a hypocrites
Christians are? Does it make the Christian community look bad? The answer to all of these questions is, Yes it

People are watching us, and observing everything we do. Everything a Christian does should be an example of
Christ, showing the world how they are to live. Any thing that’s controversial should not be done by a Christian, for
it might cause someone to go down the wrong path in life and be lost.

    Romans 14:21
    21. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing
         whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made

 Would Jesus buy a lottery ticket? I don’t think so. Would you attend a church if the pastor bought lottery tickets, or
bet on the horses? Most likely you wouldn’t.

If your pastor bought lottery tickets, or bet on horses, you would probably fire him or go to another church. Yet if
you’re a Christian, you are the Church.  You are the body of Christ, and you shouldn’t be gambling either.


I can’t see Jesus buying a lottery ticket, betting on a racehorse or gambling in any form. Why, because Jesus is
righteous and he is holy. He is perfect in every way, and he is without sin. That than being the case, I don’t believe
Jesus would have gambled. Do you? If Jesus wouldn’t have gambled, is it right for you or me to do so? Are we not
supposed to be a reflection of Jesus Christ in everything we do and say?


The answer is, YES. Gambling is indeed a sin, simply because Jesus wouldn’t have practiced it. Furthermore, it’s
a sin because it tells the world that it’s OK to gamble, and by our actions, we might lead someone astray, causing
them to enter a life of gambling, addiction, and sin.

The only reason we gamble, is to gain riches easily. We purchase lottery tickets we place bets, and we play the
slot machines, hoping to make a fortune off of a little, and with very little effort.

    The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:7-11

    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.
    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.

All the money in the world will not get you into heaven, but it may corrupt you so much that you’ll not be allowed
inside. We brought nothing into the world, and we’ll take nothing with us when we leave. As verse nine states, they
that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish, and hurtful lust.

 We can replace some of those words and say; those who desire riches, fall into the hurtful lust of gambling, which
becomes a snare to them, leading them down to road to perdition and destruction.

 Gambling is a road to destruction, and it leads us away from God. I beg you to place your trust in God, instead of
in lottery tickets. I beg you to trust him God for what you need, instead of trying to get a “quick fix” as offered by the

 There is a scripture found in the book of Proverbs, which makes a beautiful prayer. It is a prayer, which should
sum up our needs. It relates to what I have been saying. It is a fine example of how we are to think, and it is a
wonderful example of what we are to pray.

    Proverbs 30:7-9
    7.   Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I
    8.   Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty
         nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
    9.   Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I
         be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

 In other words, we should pray and ask God to give us just what we need, no more and no less. For if you have
too little, you may start coveting things others have. If you have too much, you may become proud, and stop
depending on God. Our desire should be to have only the things we need, not to have all we want because of our

God cares very much for you. Because he cares so much, He will see you through hard times, and help you when
you need help. If you place your trust in him instead of yourself, or in the “quick fixes” of the world, he will take care
of you and supply all your needs.

All the money you win, by gambling, will not get you to heaven. Having all the money your heart could ever desires
will not be sufficient to buy your way inside. Heaven is not for sale. But, having to much money might corrupt you so
that you will become unfit for heaven, and kept from entering in.

Instead of spending your time and effort trying to gain instant riches, concentrate on the gift of eternal life that’s
available only through Jesus. Place your trust in him, and allow him to supply your needs. Forget about the lottery
and lay up riches in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt. Instead of trying to lay up riches here on earth,
and worrying what to do with them, lay up riches in heaven where there are no thieves to rob you or take it away.
Instead of paying taxes on your riches, strive to obtain riches in heaven, where there are no taxes.  

Riches that are laid up in heaven will make you happier than any riches you obtain on earth.

If you like to gamble, whether it’s in a small way or in a large one, I pray that you will repent of your sins and turn
form your wickedness. Jesus loves you, and he can take the desire for riches out of your heart, and create in you a
clean heart that’s holy and acceptable to him.       

Is gambling a sin? Let me put it this way. Gambling may not be spelled out in the bible as a sin, but to gamble is
certainly an improper action for Christians. When one gambles, it shows a lack of faith and trust in Almighty God.

God promised to supply all our needs. That being the case, for a Christian to gamble for riches, is going against
the wishes of God. The only reason to gamble is greed in our heart, and that makes it a sin in the eyes of God.

Whenever there is doubt about anything, if there is something you think might be a sin, it’s wise to refrain from
doing it. This not only protects your salvation, it sets an example for others to follow as well.

Don Guthrie
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