To destroy the works of the evil one, and the kingdom of darkness with light, and to rescue men from the law of sin, this is the Gospel of Christ. To proclaim the news unto the poor, Narrator: “The Gospel of Christ. Spreading the Soul saving message of Jesus, and now, Ben Bailey.” This is the Gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” First Corinthians chapter six verse number twelve. Welcome to our study of the truth about gambling. What do the Scriptures teach about the subject of gambling?
Is it okay to go down to the local casino or gambling hall and gamble, play the slots, and play the lottery? And what does the Bible say for Christians about things related to gambling? As always we’re so glad that you’ve joined us for our broadcast today this lesson, as well as all of our lessons are being brought to you by members of the churches of Christ worldwide. Those churches of Christ in your local area would love for you to stop by and visit their assemblies. If maybe you’re looking for a place to worship or would like to study the Bible, they’d love to have you stop by and visit. And as always we’d love for you to visit our website thegospelofchrist.com where you can find a host of free Bible study materials.
If you’d like to have a copy of any of our lessons, including this series on the truth, we’d love to send that to you free of charge. You can go to our website and fill out a media request or you can mail us or call us at the information given, and we’d love to help you in your Bible study in whatever way that we possibly can. Today we’re thinking about the subject of gambling. What exactly is gambling?
How do we define gambling? Friend, gambling is defined as a game of luck or chance where money or something of equal value is either gained or lost at others expense, and requires three things are necessary really. You got luck or chance, no, we’re not talking about skill, we’re not talking about working; we’re talking about pure luck or chance. Then you’ve got something that is exchanged, gained or lost, money or something of value, in part of that gambling idea. And then you got something gained or lost at others expense, what you win somebody else loses, what you lose somebody else wins.
It is the idea of taking from others’ losses to have your winnings. And so it’s a game of luck or chance where you’re basically taking others’ losses for one’s profit. Now as we think about gambling, let’s realize that gambling is a serious problem in the United States of America. Did you know that there are at least, at least, 12 million Americans who are compulsive gamblers?
Gamblers Anonymous reports this statistic, that there are at least 12 million compulsive gamblers. It is a serious addiction and problem in the United States of America. In fact, Dallas Morning News reported that the average compulsive gambler has debts exceeding $80,000.
Now you stop and think about that, 12 million Americans who’ve got a gambling problem, compulsive gamblers, and of those the average debt is $80,000. Can’t we see that gambling in and of itself statistically does not pay off? Now think about the statistics of your chances of actually winning.
The odds of winning, for example, Megabucks Lottery, or something in Las Vegas similar to this, Megabucks are one in 49,836,032. One in 50 million chance of winning. Odds of winning the Texas Match 5+ are one in 47 million. Now, those are astronomical figures; if I said you’ve got a one in 50 million chance, that’s not very good chances.
In fact, did you know that your chance of getting struck by lightning is seven times greater than it is winning $1 million in the state lottery? I’ve got a seven times greater chance of getting struck by lightning, a freak accident, than I actually do winning the lottery in the state in which one lives. As you think about some of the statistics of gambling, not only are odds not very good, but gambling is also associated with other problems and moral issues in life. For example, crime rates, did you know that crime rates in casino communities are 84% higher than the national average? Well, why is that? People are addicted to it, and when you get addicted to it, you got to get the money somehow to keep that addiction and so one may steal from others.
There is more money spent on gambling than on elementary and secondary education in the United States of America. That’s a whole lot of money. People spend more money gambling than all of elementary and secondary education in the United States of America. Did you know that Americans gamble more money each year than they spend on groceries? More money is thrown away than people actually spend on groceries for their families in the United States of America. Now, those are the statistics those things help us to see it is a problem, the odds are not very good, and other problems are compounded by gambling.
But really we’re here today to ask, what does the Bible say? “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah thirty-seven verse seventeen. “What does the Scripture say?” Romans four verse three, on this subject?
Friend, the thing that we must realize and remember is, in the Bible there’s no authority for gambling. Now this is how God teaches us to approach Scripture. We don’t come to the Scripture and say well, the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong, therefore I can do it. That’s not the way we approach it.
The Bible, now if we’re going to take that approach, a whole lot of things will be licensed that are not right in the Bible; not right morally. For example, where in the Bible does it say do not inject heroin into your arms? You read your Bible and you can’t find that, but does God tell us to take care of the body? Does God tell us not to be drunk? Does God tell us what he wants us to do? I don’t approach the Bible saying well let’s go to it and see if God condemns it, that’s the reverse problem.
We need to say, where does God authorize it? Where in the Bible does God approve of the action of gambling for the Christian? Where’s the Scripture that says it’s okay, it is good for a Christian to gamble? You see my friend, the main problem is God doesn’t authorize it. There’s no authority for gambling in the Bible.
Now must a Christian have authority for everything he does in life? Absolutely, Colossians three verse seventeen, the Bible says, “Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” And so we approach the Bible, and we see that we are told whatever we do, and then he kind of specifies that, word or deed. I’m to do all in the name of, Acts four verse seven, which means by the authority of Jesus. Therefore, where’s the authority for gambling? Where’s the passage that says it’s acceptable?
Where does God teach in Scripture that is an authorized way to make money, to gain profit, to live? You just don’t find that in the Bible. God never permits Christians to gamble. Now as we think about gambling, let’s also realize that gambling is just not good stewardship. I’m to be a good steward of that which God has given me and blessed me with. And I’m to make sure that I do my best to give back and do good in my community.
For example, Luke chapter twelve, I want you to notice what Jesus says here about stewardship and our need to be a good steward, verse number forty-two. Jesus here says, “And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make him ruler over his household, to give them the portion of their food in due season?” Who’s that faithful and wise steward? I’m to be a good steward, First Peter 4 verse number 10. What’s a steward?
A steward is a manager of something God’s given him. If I’m to be a good steward, to use it wisely, to do good, and to help others. Does that fit with the idea of gambling? You see I’m to be a good steward of my money.
What God has blessed me with I’m to use wisely, I am to do good, I’m to help I’m to take care of my family, I’m to give back to God, First Corinthians 16:1-2. Is gambling, now friend you just think about this, is gambling being a good steward of your money? We’ve already said, your chances are slim to none of winning.
How could you be a good steward by basically throwing that money away? I’m to be a good steward of my talents and my time. If one is consuming his talents and his time with things such as gambling am I really using those things to the glory and the honor of my God? And so we must let those things stay at the forefront that God wants us to be good stewards and gambling does not make me a good steward.
What else is wrong with the subject of gambling? Friend, let’s think about what Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven verse number twelve, as Jesus teaches us how to relate to others, how to live our life in such a way that it’s going to bring honor and glory to Him. I want you to notice what the Lord said in Matthew seven verse number twelve, Jesus here said, “Therefore whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” We think of this, and we’ve labeled it as the Golden Rule.
Whatever I want somebody to do to me, I would do to them. Now question, would you want somebody to beat you out of your paycheck? Would you want somebody to win your mortgage payment or your grocery money? Would you want somebody to take the money that you were going to feed your kids with? Would you want somebody to win those things from you?
Of course not. I work hard for my money; you work hard for yours. I want to use it to the best of my ability, and I don’t want somebody doing that to me. Therefore I must not do that to someone else. What I win, what somebody wins at the gambling tables, a whole host of people are losing.
And mortgage payments, car payments, children are not being fed, there’s a whole Domino Effect to that. Now let’s combine this with this idea, a lawyer came to Jesus, and he asked Him the question, “Good teacher what’s the greatest commandment?” Jesus responded by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Agreed with that good, good commandment, and then Jesus followed up by saying, “And the second like unto it is, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If I take my neighbor’s money, if I went over and stole from my neighbor, took his wallet, took his money out of it, would I be following that command? If I go to the gambling table and all in the name of fun take his mortgage payment, take his money, am I really loving my neighbor like I ought to love them?
Friend, it’s really not loving and following the Golden Rule like the Bible teaches us that we ought to do. Now, another reason gambling violates the Scriptures is it causes one to be addicted to something God has not told us to be addicted to. Let me again illustrate that gambling is indeed an addiction. In 2001 Minnesota Department of Mental Health reported this, gross revenues from gambling were 68.7 billion, more money than Americans spent on music, movies, spectator sports, video games, and theme parks combined.
$68.7 billion, friend, somewhere there is an addiction in that. The National Council of Problem Gambling reported in March 2003 that over 80% of US adults have reported gambling at least once in the past year. National Institute of Mental Health concluded there are 4.2 million Americans who were addicted to gambling. Now, listen to this, 60% of whom have yearly incomes under $25,000. Now you stop and think about that.
That many million Americans who have a gambling problem, and of that 4.2 million, 60% make less than $25,000 a year. Here you’ve got people living below poverty level going out and trying to gamble. What is gambling?
Someone once rightly said, gambling is a tax on the poor. That’s really what it comes down to, people who can’t afford it try to find an easy way out, looking maybe to have that pie-in-the-sky dream come true, and really they’re blowing money they don’t have. They’re involved in an addiction which is not right and not according to the Scripture.
Now what is the Scripture teach about the idea of addiction? Remember First Corinthians six verse number twelve, the apostle Paul said, “All things”, and he’s talking about in the realm of matters of opinion and option, “all things”, he said, “are lawful for me, not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Should a Christian be addicted to certain things?
Whether it be drugs, whether it be alcohol, whether it be tobacco, whether be pornography, whether be gambling, should I let that rule and have power over me? Absolutely not. It causes an addiction.
Galatians five verse twenty-three, the Bible teaches us of the fruits of the spirit. One of those is self-control. Second Peter one verse six, I’m to add to my faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control.
And so if I have a gambling problem, we’ve already shown that a host of people do, I don’t have the self-control that God wants me to. I am actually under the power of gambling. What I think about, the actions that I do when I go to the job, my family suffers because of it. And so gambling causes one to have an unholy or ungodly addiction to those things. Now is a Christian to be under something?
You bet he is. Under the power of Christ. Romans 6:17-18, “God be thanked that though you were the slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine, to which you were delivered, and having been set free from sin, we became slaves, servants of Christ.”
I’m under the power of Christ, He has authority over my life, He is the one who ought to be in control, and therefore I need to let Him and His word lead me in these type of actions. Let’s ask another question. Could gambling ruin my Christian example? Now let me just mention it to you this way. Let’s say that the town in which you live has a huge casino right by the main road, has a huge casino, big flashing lights; money signs flickering everywhere.
You drive by that, and you see me or you see your local preacher coming out of there. What would you say? Boy, what a great example, look at him he’s following Christ what a great example he’s being let’s all go follow him. No, I kind of doubt that’s what you’d say.
You’d wonder what’s the preacher coming out of the casino for, what’s he doing in the gambling hall? I thought that wasn’t something we ought to do. Well can it ruin just a Christian’s example? The Bible teaches, Second Corinthians six verses 17 and 18 of the Christian not being a part of the world. God says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate,” says Lord, “I’ll be your God; you shall be my people.”
I am to come out of the world, not be like the world. Jesus said in Matthew five verse sixteen, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” You see somebody coming out of the casino, the gambling hall, you don’t say what a great light he’s being for the Lord. No that’s probably not what you’re thinking. First Timothy four verse twelve, Paul was told or Paul told Timothy, “Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in spirit and in purity.”
Whether it be drinking, whether it be drugs, whether it be revelry, I’m to be, I’m to abstain from that those things. I’m to be an example in everything I do. Listen to First Thessalonians five verse number twenty-two, the Bible says, “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” Gambling, the gambling hall, the casino; the things that go on there, would you associate that with holiness and God, or would you associate that with evil, sin, and the devil? Friend, I think we realize it’d be associated with that which is evil. I am to abstain from every form or appearance of evil, therefore I shouldn’t allow my Christian example to be marred by going to places and participating in things like unto that.
Now, we mention this also, Christians ought not to gamble because it can lead to, has the potential to lead to, dishonesty and deceit. Let me illustrate just from some facts. A U.S. News & World Report analysis found, as we mentioned, crime rates in cities where there were casinos were 84% higher. There’s a problem there, there is a moral sin problem that goes along with that. Focus on the Family reports an extreme example, where even a church secretary stole $186,000 from the church to fund her lottery obsession. Does it cause problems?
Can it lead to dishonesty and deceit? Does it lead to other problems, crime, stealing, theft, drugs? You bet it does. We’ve all seen this, we know this. There are cities that like Las Vegas that have to deal with this day and night.
The homeless, the poor, the sick, those who think they’re going to hit it big in gambling, that’s not God’s way. Well how then does God teach us to make money? If gambling is not right, then how am I to make money?
Remember we’re to have authority for all that we do. A Christian can make money in one of three ways. I can make money by working for it. Do you remember Second Thessalonians three verse ten? Oh how that people would realize this today, “If a man won’t work, neither shall he eat.” How do you eat, how do you make money?
By working; good, old- fashioned, hard labor and work is how one earns a living. The Bible then teaches that a Christian can also make money by selling lands or goods and trading or selling that for money. Acts chapter four verse number thirty-four, Ananias and Sapphira had land, they sold it, and they made money off of it. They didn’t do the right thing with that Acts five verse one following, they didn’t do the right thing. Barnabas had land, he sold it, laid the money at the apostles’ feet. Ananias and Sapphira had land, they sold it, they had money; they lied about it.
Friend, one is authorized to sell land or goods and make money off of that as well. And then a Christian could trade something for money or other goods. Genesis chapter thirty-four verse ten, there was the trading that went on there between the early patriarchs, where they traded cattle, land, and goods for money or other goods. Let’s say that somebody had some land and they needed something else whether it was cattle or goods or a home, whatever it may be, an equal trade would also be authorized in the Bible. And so you could work for it, you can sell land, you can trade for something of value, but what you don’t find in the Scriptures, as it relates to gambling is it’s never an authorized way to make money to earn a living. That’s not authorized by God.
Now friend, as we think about gambling, I want to emphasize to you the great damage gambling can do to families. Listen carefully, gambling has been shown time and time again to destroy the family. Let me illustrate, in Illinois a review of the state’s gaming records reveal that in a fourteen month period, seventy-two children were found abandoned on gambling premises. What would make somebody abandon their child at a casino? An addiction. In Louisiana and South Carolina children actually died after being locked in hot cars for hours while their caretakers gambled.
An Illinois mother was sentenced to prison for suffocating her infant daughter in order to collect insurance money for gambling. In gambling communities, spousal abuse and divorce rates skyrocket. And so it can do-think about marriages that have suffered because finances were in shambles over gambling, think about children, homes, mortgage payments, cars. All that was lost because somebody had an addiction and how that naturally affects the family. Well we ask then, in a preventative way how does one overcome or prevent a gambling problem? Friend realize this, Ed McMahon probably is just not coming.
The pie-in-the-sky, Publishers Clearing House, dream: buy a lottery ticket and I’m going to win $1 million, the chances of that are so slim that I need to just get rid of that idea. I’m paying something, I’m not going to receive. It’s a dream, it’s pie-in-the-sky; it’s not going to win. I need to do away with that very idea that that’s how I can exist and survive and hit it big. Realize this, if you’re a Christian in this life, you have treasure beyond measure. As a child of God I have heaven as my home, I have God’s family as my family, I have the riches of all spiritual blessings in Christ, I’ve got more now as a Christian than I could ever have if I even won the lottery.
Thirdly, learn to be content with what you have. First Timothy six verses six through ten, Paul said to Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain, we brought nothing into this world, it’s certain we can take nothing out, having food and clothing be content with these.” Learn to be content. You know, if you can learn to be content, you can be happy in whatever state you’re in as long as you’re a Christian and you have Christ and your sins have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus. You know a lot of problem is, people don’t have that, and they’ve yet to learn what true contentment is all about.
Friend, we ask you today, have you obeyed the gospel? Are you a Christian? If maybe you’ve been searching for something to to fill that void, I can promise you Christ can do that. You can be complete in Christ, Colossians two verses nine and ten.
And so we ask you, have you heard the message of this book, that Jesus is the son of God? Do you believe that with all your heart? Do you believe it so much so that you’re willing to change your life and repent? Would you confess His name before men? And would you do what Jesus said?
“He that believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:16. Let’s not be addicted to gambling, let’s turn our lives over to Christ, and live every day for Him. You may have just joined our program and are wondering, “What is The Gospel of Christ?”