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Sunday, May 22, 2011 | Comments (69)

Is it a sin to gamble? There's not an easy or instantly-obvious prooftext answer to that question. If you are looking for a "Thus saith the Lord: Thou shalt not gamble," you won't find it anywhere. Nothing expressly forbids gambling anywhere in Scripture.

Does that automatically put gambling into the realm of adiaphora, or indifferent matters? I don't think so. I would argue that gambling is a sin, full stop.

A Sin? Are you Serious? Why Would Anyone Believe that in this Enlightened Age?

Here are three reasons that instantly come to mind:

  1. The absence of a single commandment or proof-text against gambling ultimately proves nothing. There are lots of things that are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible that we would probably agree are clearly sinful.

    There isn't anything in Scripture that forbids arson, for example. But we know arson is wrong because it violates other biblical principles. It's a violation of the commandment in Leviticus 19:18: "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

    As a matter of fact, even thinking about burning down your neighbor's property violates Zechariah 8:17: "Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour . . . [for] these are things that I hate, saith the Lord." So I don't think anyone would seriously argue that arson is OK, just because it isn't named in the Bible as a sin. Ditto with recreational drug use, graffiti-vandalism, and a host of other societal evils.

  2. Gambling is inconsistent with biblical virtue. It is fueled by—and it fuels—covetousness, greed, and materialism. It is associated with crime, vice and corruption, so that wherever gambling exists, crime rates rise. And it is contrary to the biblical work ethic, because it is an attempt to gain wealth without working for it.

  3. Our possessions are not our own to squander. They are given to us as a stewardship, and we will be accountable to God for how we use them. To put God-given resources at risk is to fail in the faithfulness required of stewards.

I once gave that answer to a college student who asked me about gambling in a public Q&A session in GraceLife. He stayed at the microphone while I gave my answer, and I could see he was not satisfied with it. When I finished, he asked if he could respond.

"By all means," I told him. "If that doesn't answer your question, ask a follow-up, and I'll expand on my answer.

Can't You Make a Better Case Than That?

"Well," he said, "I still don't think you have shown that gambling is a sin. Let me reply to your arguments one by one.

"First," he said, "take the example of arson. It is wrong to burn down your neighbor's field or his house only when there is no mutual consent. But suppose he wanted your help burning his field because he wanted to clear the land. Then it would not be a sin for you to set fire to his property.

"As a matter of fact," he continued, "My neighbors had an abandoned building they were going to demolish for a new commercial development. So they allowed some fire department trainees to set fire to the building and practice putting it out. It wasn't a sin for the rookie fireman to set fire to that house, because the owner had given his consent.

"And gambling is always by mutual consent," he said. So it cannot be wrong done against your neighbor, because you have his concurrence before the game of chance begins."

He wasn't finished.

"Second," he said, "gambling isn't necessarily motivated only by covetousness and greed. I like to gamble for recreation and sheer entertainment."

Looking at me, he asked, "What is your favorite form of entertainment?"

"I like to take my sons to a baseball game," I said.

"Fine," he answered. "If you take your family to a baseball game, by the time you bought tickets, paid for parking, and got some food or drinks, you would probably have spent $100 to $150. All that money to watch an athletic contest! You get nothing tangible for your money except maybe a Coke and a large pretzel. The whole game is over in two and a half hours, and you go back home, with nothing to show for the money you spent. It is just entertainment; sheer recreation.

"Now, the form of recreation I prefer is gambling. I can take the same $100 and go to a casino, where I might spend the entire evening playing Blackjack. I get all the Cokes and pretzels I want for free. And if I have a good night, I can play for four or five hours with my $100—twice as long as you spent at your two-and-a-half-hour ball game.

"Furthermore," he said, "I might win, and then I will go home with even more money than I came with. But I don't do it because of greed. I do it because that is what I enjoy, just like you enjoy baseball."

I started to respond, but he held up a finger to signal that he wasn't through yet.

"Now," he said, "Let's talk about the stewardship issue. You went to an athletic event and have nothing permanent to show for the money you spent. I might have more money coming out than I had going into the casino.

"But even if I lose," he said, "I am a disciplined loser, and I always set a specific amount I am willing to lose—never more than about 100 dollars. And if I lose that much, I quit and walk away. That is still less money than you spent on your baseball outing, and it usually buys me several hours of exciting entertainment. Sometimes I even win, so I can even make money through my form of entertainment. Now I ask you, which is better stewardship?"

I took a deep breath and pondered the best way to reply.

But before I could answer, he continued. "There are risks involved in gambling," he said. "But the farmer who spends money to buy seed and plant a field also takes a huge gamble every year. If the weather destroys his crop, he will lose far more than I ever risk. Risk is a normal part of all our lives."

And then he asked me, "Do you have any of your retirement savings in mutual funds?" As a matter of fact, I do, so I acknowledged that fact.

"Well," he said, "you are taking a risk with that money. You yourself are gambling that the market will rise. What if it goes down? You will lose money. So you are gambling that it will go up. Meanwhile, you have put your savings at risk. How in the world can you tell me you think gambling is sinful? You aren't even practicing what you preach. If it is wrong to gamble, it is wrong for you to put your retirement savings in the stock market. And if it is unwise stewardship for me to gamble at cards, then it is also bad stewardship for you to invest money in mutual funds.

"And finally," he said, "My enjoyment of gambling has got nothing to do with my work ethic. In addition to my student class load, I work a full time job during the week and make good money. For me to spend $100 on Friday night at the casino is no more a reflection on my work ethic than for you to spend $150 on Friday evening at a baseball game.

"Gambling is just entertainment for me, and unless you are prepared to argue that all forms of entertainment are sinful, give me better arguments to show that gambling violates the Bible's moral standards, or show me where the Bible says gambling is a sin, I am going to keep visiting the casino."

That's a pretty thorough off-the-cuff reply to my off the-cuff answer to his original question, isn't it? It was obvious that he had spent a great deal of time thinking through these issues. He had heard the standard arguments, and he believed he could answer them all.

Well, OK. Let's Think This Through More Carefully . . .

By then, unfortunately, we were running short on time, and I only had enough time left to give him a quick reply.

I told him first of all that I still believe a sinister principle underlies all gambling, and it is this: for every winner, there are losers. And the winners' gains come at the losers' expense. There is no other way to gain money through gambling. When you win, you are taking that which belongs to another. The winners' profit always comes directly from the losers' pocket. There's something more sinister about that than merely winning an athletic competition, which involves no material loss for the loser.

In other words, gambling is the moral equivalent of stealing. His argument about mutual consent between the players didn't seem to make it OK, because in real life many gambling losses lead to ruin for the loser. Prior consent doesn't eliminate the evil in that.

I also told him I did not completely buy his rationale that gambling might be just a form of pure entertainment—something better by which to pass the time than watching television. While the argument has some appeal at first glance, I pointed out that if there is an immoral principle that underlies all gambling—if gambling per se violates any clear principle of Scripture—then it is wrong on any grounds. To say that you gamble only for entertainment is not really a good defense against the argument that gambling is rooted in greed and covetousness.

For example, what if someone tried to claim it was OK to fornicate because he was doing it only as a form of entertainment? My point was this: if it's wrong to gamble on matters of biblical principle, then it is wrong to gamble in any circumstance, and it is wrong to gamble in any amount. If there are principles that make gambling a sinful activity, then it is wrong to gamble for "entertainment," and it is wrong whether you are gambling 50 cents or gambling your whole paycheck.

I regretted that we had to end our Q&A session at that point. He went away unsatisfied with my reply, and so did I.

While I still felt all my arguments were biblically sound, I didn't feel I had done enough to highlight the real heart of the matter. And that prompted me to give more thought to the issue of gambling so that I would be better prepared to give an answer if the question ever came up again.

Since then, I have thought through the issues more carefully than ever. I've considered the arguments further. I've taken an even closer look at the biblical data. And I hasten to say that I am even more convinced than ever that gambling is a sinful activity. It is not a valid form of entertainment, and it is not a harmless matter of indifference. It violates a number of biblical principles and therefore ought to be avoided in all its forms.

Hold on; I'm Not Finished Yet

A blog is a great medium for exploring such a questions in careful detail. So in a couple of follow-up posts, I plan to give you a series of biblical arguments showing in further detail exactly why I still believe gambling is a sin.

Stay tuned for more . . .

Phil Johnson
Executive Director


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#1  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 12:37 AM

Great post Phil, I am also convicted that gambling is sinful, and is dishonorable to God. I don't believe there is any "entertainment" in gambling but that it is based in instant gratification and greed. Gambling is straight up evil, and in the end it just breeds more evil. Thanks for the up coming series. I look forward to it. Praise God!


#2  Posted by Rhoda Jane  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 12:42 AM

Thank you for posting this, it made an interesting read. I have been brought up to believe it is wrong, including the speculation side of stocks and shares. But then I have been more recently challenged in those beliefs so it is good to see it thought out here.

#3  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 3:47 AM

Phil, Terrific article. The money I earn in my view is God's money. I believe He requires me to be careful with how I use it. (To be a good steward) It seems the other person in the article is doing his best to justify something that as an authentic follower of Christ should not be doing. It seems he is taking Christian liberty and flirting with it. Has this person supressed their conscience to the point that they do not believe it is a sin to be gambling?

#4  Posted by Renata Mileske  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM

Quite frankly, I believe the man is being decieved by the enemy...he is slowly but surely being set up for a great fall in this category of life (systematizing of error) and I sense an arrogance about his belief in gambling and he has rationalized it and clearly his conscience is not clear in the matter of gambling....I rest my case.

#5  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 9:34 AM


I generally agree with your article. I too agree that gambling is a very bad habit which can end up ruining peoples' lives. To society it can cause a great deal of problems both socially and economically but worst of all it can become an addiction to the individual. I take it you’re not against all forms of gambling, since your main objection against gambling is that one or more parties have to lose for somebody to win. Well when it comes to the lottery, everybody puts their bids in and if there is a winner it’s the lottery company that loses out.

Now I hope its ok for me to speak my mind here because there are a few things I disagree with you and I hope you don't mind me voicing my opinions without taking offense. There are quite a few people on this website who don't like what I have to say. And often at times it seems like my comments are being censored.

Anyway while I agree with most of your points, one thing I disagree with most in your article is your third point in the introduction when you said: “Our possessions are not our own to squander” and “To put God-given resources at risk”. Exactly how do you consider the things in our possession were given to us by God? Even on a Biblical scale that is very far-fetched. Using this logic what you’re essentially saying is that anybody who had better quality articles to begin with, had these things handed to them by God (either directly or indirectly) but at the same time those who were not so lucky were denied such materials from God. Also using this logic, every time we purchase something or commit theft, it is been given to us by God.

One other thing I want to mention is that you didn’t address his point about you putting your money in the stock market as a form of gambling. Your whole argument is that gambling is a sin because it involves greed, coveting and materialism and the end result is somebody losing. But when you put your money in the stock market, you are investing in a particular organisation and a lot of the time you have to hope (even pray) that its competitors don’t do so well in order for you to get a return in your investment. So by putting your money in a mutual fund and expecting a return in your investment, you are by your own omission gambling.

Well I hope this comment makes it through and hopefully you or anybody else won't take offense to it. Kudos on bringing up such an interesting topic.

#6  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Gambling is almost like what the 10th commandment said. Don't covet.


Thoughts were in my mind over this. Thanks for this.

Seeing a picture of a person with a bucket of tokins and pulling the

lever. Hoping for a better day. This is sad picture and truth is

gambling is a greatest addiction ever. Just thinking a picture and

what I heard over the yrs.

#7  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 10:56 AM

I have been a Grace Partner for many years and I have always disagreed with you on gambling and drinking. I have done both in the past but don't do either now. Not because I think it is a sin to drink and not get under the influence of it or gamble for entertainment. I just don't care for either. I do think using tobacco it a sin since it is bad for our bodies. You don't hear much about that or gluttony.

Just because you make a statement like this "In other words, gambling is the moral equivalent of stealing. His argument about mutual consent between the players didn't seem to make it OK, because in real life many gambling losses lead to ruin for the loser. Prior consent doesn't eliminate the evil in that." does not make it true. I have gambled and lost and was not ruined. My wife and I went out West on vacation. We went to Reno and gambled $100 each. When we lost that we had a good meal and went on down the road.

This statement "For example, what if someone tried to claim it was OK to fornicate because he was doing it only as a form of entertainment?" has no validity. Fornication is listed as a sin but gambling is not. So that is not a valid example. It is apples and oranges.

You said "I pointed out that if there is an immoral principle that underlies all gambling—if gambling per se violates any clear principle of Scripture—then it is wrong on any grounds." To say that you gamble only for entertainment is not really a good defense against the argument that gambling is rooted in greed and covetousness". How can you make that statement. Only God knows what is in the heart of a man and why he desires to do something. If gambling is a sin to you then you should not do it but don't get legalistic about it.

I have to say that I am in agreement with the man in the Q/A session. I think it is far worse for a person to set at home and watch TV than to spent that time gambling for entertainment. TV is the worst thing that has happen to Christians but you don't hear any condemnation from the pulpit about that. Instead you can watch it on TV.

I have never seen a GTY blogger make a miss statement in a blog. Must be nice to be perfect. I can hear the wolfpack coming.

From that comment you may think I am anti GTY but I am not. I have supported GTY monthly for 12 or more years. It is just I get tired of you trying to push your legalistic views about certain issues and saying the scripture support it not matter how much reinterpretation you have to do.

#8  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Sorry, my fault that I said addiction. I meant it's like our brain lock on the slots with lever and thinking it brings hope. Better?

Thanks for the info. God bless.

#9  Posted by Mark Veit  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Wow. Good stuff. That dude had some exellent points. Smart guy. (The college student that is) To bad he's 100% wrong. :)

It's like me saying there is nothing wrong with drinking two beers. Except I have a problem with alchohol. It's easer for me to drink "no" beers then "two" beers. Just the fact that people that do gamble are taking a chance (no pun intended) it won't ruin their lives. It's a shame Christains can't seem to agree on much. :(

#10  Posted by Alicia Williams  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Everything is given to us by God, if someone steals ( a sin) then of course the items were not from God but taken wrongfully. Some Christians have more and nicer things, some are rich and have beautiful cars and homes. God gave them the gift of money so they may use that gift rightly. Some, like myself, were not given riches but simple things and simple life. I am grateful and thank God everyday. God does not hand us things, God gives us jobs,(by allowing certain doors to be open to us) with income to fit our needs and wisdom on how to manage money. If you play lotto and lose, you have lost the money you played. Now someone else has your money. Why not instead, put that money in the offering plate so someone with more need than you is blessed with it? Like a missionary in another country.

#11  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#12  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#13  Posted by Donavan Dear  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 4:25 PM


Thank you for your article.

I lived in Las Vegas for several years and found myself without a job, I spoke to my church about their perspective on gambling and they didn’t have one, they said we just want to get people saved. I have studied higher math for many years in college and so I read about 15 books on blackjack strategy and really studied all the systems I could so gambling would not become gambling at all, I concluded that if I played perfectly and bet properly I would have about a 1/2 percent advantage on the house. So I tried to make a living playing blackjack, I understood concepts like instant gratification, stewardship, greed, and not putting any evil thing before me, but I had justified my actions because I was putting 15+ hours of study everyday and only playing about 2. This was not for entertainment at all and it was not fun I thought well, I have a good head for numbers and should use my gifts. I was wrong to think this way, even a Christian has a pull towards sin, Rom 7 and it is impossible to dive into that environment and not feel the fingers of greed pull you down.

However, I have never understood gambling in the Bible, of course the environment was not Las Vegas but many decisions were made by casting lots in the OT Joshua cast lots to figure out how to distribute the land for the Israelites, no little matter. Even in the NT the apostles cast lots to pick a new apostle. Obviously these decisions were directed by God but the principle remains that games of chance were used for decision making. I do not think that we may follow these decision making lessons as a rule for ourselves but the fact remains that God did use gambling throughout the Bible, I think the difference is the environment that the game of chance is done in.

It is foolish to say that stock investing is not gambling. It’s foolish to say that starting a new business or even getting a mortgage isn’t gambling everyone would agree that there is a degree of chance in driving down the street and not getting hit. So I think gambling must be defined a little more narrowly to say that it is sin, I believe that environment has something to do with it, it did for me, and I had to stop gambling.

#14  Posted by Matthew Frields  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 4:47 PM

This article is going to cause controversy. People will accuse Mr. Johnson of being legalistic. The problem so far - he has not finished his response. How can you call him legalistic without his full response? Once you know his response – consider it. I don’t believe he is going at this half-heartedly. I don’t believe he is going to be legalistic. Legalists tend to have a sinful heart attitude. I believe his heart to be pure in this blog. This college student has obviously challenged him to dig deeper in to God’s word; which, I believe, helps avoid legalism.

Speaking of the college student, I would say he felt some guilt for his gambling. Why else would he have put so much thought and study in to it? Just as Mr. Johnson was challenged and is putting a lot of thought and study in to it. I would like to point out that the college student failed to bring Biblical backing in to his belief (he may have some, but failed to point it out). In this post, Mr. Johnson has guided his thoughts and belief in this matter with scripture. Gambling is what many in the Christian faith call a “grey area.” I admit – I don’t know where to stand on this issue. Since I have placed my faith in Christ – I have gambled. Was it sin? I don’t know –but I look forward to what Mr. Johnson’s study has taught him.

By the way – every time you get in a car - it’s a gamble. You are betting that everyone else is going to drive safe – no one will run a red light or a stop sign. People die everyday because someone ran a red light or a stop sign. Does that mean it’s a sin to travel by car? No. When you buy a house, you are betting that your job is secure for the next thirty years, but you can’t know that – so it’s a gamble. So obviously, that means there are various forms of gambling. I am going to bet (pun intended) that there are sinful forms of gambling.

#15  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Steven (#5)

The reason to consider all that we have as given us by God is because that is exactly what scripture teaches us. In 1 Chronicles 29, King David dedicates all the gifts given for the temple and he acknowledges to God that all that was given by the people really came from the Lord’s own hand. 1 Chronicles 29:14 states “"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” Even what we earn, we earn because God gives us the skill or intelligence or health to earn it.

Because what we have is from the Lord, we should use it in ways that would please Him and serve His purpose. Risking it foolishly or using it only for selfish pleasure would not be using it as God would have us. God does not give us all the same amount of resources but He promises to meet the needs of all of those who are His children. Those who have abundance should see it as wealth to share. 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 states, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’"

You commented that people on this blog take offense at your words or don’t like what you say. The problem is that your comments are not consistent with scripture. God tells us not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Scripture is our authority because it is God’s Word. I appreciate GTY’s ministry because it teaches God’s Word not the ideas of men.

#16  Posted by Edward Howell  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 4:53 PM


Hi Rudi, Thanks for your comments. I am not very well educated or a theologian. I get what I know from John MacArthur, Adrian Rogers, Fred Butler and now for the most part from Michael Durham at Real Truth Matters plus my daily bible reading. I said that to say I think what Paul was saying about not offending a brother (or sister) was mainly referring to eating meat sacrificed to idols. They had come from a pagan religion where sacrificed meats to gods was actually sacrificed to demons. Not saying that is the only thing their faith could be hurt by. But today in America we don't have that (in that form) but there is a group of Christians who think they know better than God and want to limit ones freedom. Adrian Rogers used to refer to them as "professional weak Christians". If they could not show scripture to prove their point they could always fall back on the weaker brother argument.

PS I am thankful for spell checkers.

#17  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Gambling is what Romans soldiers did. When they gamble Jesus' clothes. Greed is like poison asp.

#18  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 5:32 PM

I'm really glad to see GTY address this topic. Personally, I understand the perception of gambling for entertainment. While I do not gamble, I know people who do and they have never caused themselves or their family any financial problems due to their gambling. They truly do view it as entertainment and the responsibility that they show in their gambling is often much more responsible than when non-gamblers go out and buy a new boat or a car that they can't afford and cause financial misery for their families. So we should be careful when dealing with this issue as we all have similar sin in our own lives that just doesn't "feel" as bad to us because we're used to it - just as responsible gamblers are used to theirs.

However, I do agree with Phil's comments on stewardship and the fact that gambling is based on evil principles and by participating in it we are also encouraging it. This is not only bad because of the other sins that usually follow gambling (in areas such as Vegas) like prostitution, but also because of the addiction factor. Many people do not have self-control and they ruin their lives by gambling.

Thus, my primary scriptural argument against gambling is the same one I use for why I don't think Christians should drink. This is rooted in Romans 14 where it warns against becoming a stumbling block. The topic addressed in Romans concerns clean vs. unclean meat, and it points out that even if those of us who consider all things made by God to be safe to eat, that we should be considerate of other believers who are struggling with this concept. Thus, even if I can controllably have a glass of wine with my meal or a cocktail at a social gathering, or if I can responsibly gamble just for entertainment, there is so much more at stake regarding our witness to others because of their perception (regardless of whether their perception is accurate) that it is not wise to seek indulgence just because "we" can safely do it. Because even though it may be safe for us, it may be the peril of someone else.

This has been my understanding of various topics like this over the years. It simply centers around not only avoiding sin, but also the appearance of sin. I welcome comments and feedback in case I am misinterpreting scripture or misrepresenting something.

I also look forward to the coming posts as I'm sure that there are other very valid reasons that Phil will show us that clarify the sinful nature of gambling.

God bless,


#19  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 5:51 PM

We live in a world that offers such variety of entertainment and to think that anyone would suggest their "under control" gambling, aka entertainment is not a sin is the height of arrogance to me.

I cannot believe the defense that is being given for gambling as if one cannot find another suitable recreation. Come on.It's a game of chance, it's a risk and that is the lure of the game. It's an adrenaline rush for most who play and just because you can take it or leave it doesn't make it right to ignore the example you are setting. So if you lose, you can just walk away. What about if you win? Because you can sit their in your dockers and button down shirt and penny loafers while you gamble and make it to work the next day doesn't make it OK. It's lusting after money for cryin' out loud! What's that scripture about the love of money? "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."1Timothy 6:10 Ouch! Craving?

It is messing with Lady Luck. Everybody knows that. It throws you into that lump of others that are dependent on themselves or luck for success. It's looking for your blessing somewhere other than God. Which commandment does that violate? The one about you shall no other gods before me? Exodus 20:3.

Look, it really isn't hard to dress sin to look presentable. But beware: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." Exodus 20:3. Just a little. A little dab will do.

Anybody remember that comedienne that was known as The Liar? Everything that came out of his mouth was a lie. You could tell he made it all up along the way & then would finish with "That's the ticket!" You were almost embarrassed for the guy. I can just hear The Liar now, "I was not really gambling in the way addicts gamble. They have a problem. But not me. I play the game of chance for for...uh... recreation!!! Yeah, that's it. It's recreation. That's the ticket!"

You moderate gamblers get your little teeny tiny high & walk away feeling somehow better than the rest of the losers! But if you protest and insist on your right to gamble, me thinks you're an accident just waiting to happen. Don't know the stats but seems to me, gambling has produced more fools than not gambling?

By the way,getting on the freeway each morning is a risk. But I'm not ashamed to ask God for traveling mercies. However, I would not ask for mercy in any other risk that was foolish & absolutely not necessary.

Lastly, to compare gambling with bad TV? If this blog was about bad TV, the same people would say,"Well, it's not like it's gambling!" I had kids that used kind of psychology on me. Trust me. They knew what they were saying & doing. "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."Corinthians 13:11

Know what? If I was betting person, I'd bet most really know it's a sin!

#20  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Great post, Phil, I am looking forward to the rest of it. I, too, believe gambling is a sin, for so many obvious reasons. Just take a close look at the atmosphere this seedy world deals in, it is shark-infested waters for a Christian seeking to live a holy life. Just for starters, the gambling world is associated with alcohol, drugs, smoking, and scantily dressed cocktail waitresses; an atmosphere all Christians should avoid.

Great post, Mary Kidwell.

Edward # 16. I like spell check, too. I once used the old Southern expression, "That dog don't hunt", when corresponding with a friend. And spell check had the nerve to come back and tell me I was wrong, and that it should read, "That dog *doesn't* hunt." Go figure! :)

#21  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 6:12 PM

#14 Matthew, I so agree about the guilt the student might have been feeling. If your heart feels right, then why even bring it up? It's like people that want their sin can't be satisfied. They think if they can get others to crater and agree, then they will feel better, more encouraged. But they don't. In fact, I believe they become bitter people.

As far as risk, getting out of bed can be a risk. But the Lord provides and blesses us with what we need to sustain our lives. Not all risks are intentional gambles as a result of not being satisfied with what God has provided.

I heard a wonderful talk a few years ago. I'll try to find it. But it was the result of some research that showed we live in a culture of adrenaline junkies. Few of us know how to have a weekend that isn't fireworks. If we aren't doing something that causes our hearts to race, then we hardly feel alive. The next risk must outdo the last in order to have that affect. It is an addiction and our brains tell us to take it to the next level. It used to be called a "death wish". So now people want to see how close they can get...without losing the farm or the car or losing a limb or job or anything. How far can we push the envelope? These things used to make us cringe. Now we crave it so much so, TV shows with huge risks where contestants will do most anything are now the rave.

#22  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Correction on my comment #19. The correct scripture for "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." is Galatians 5:9.

#23  Posted by Stephanie Deayala-larragoiti  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 6:36 PM

I do think that gambling is rooted in greed and covetousness. Thank you for including that as I had not really given that aspect much thought surprisingly. However, I have recently been considering its relation to stewardship argument in relation to it being a form of entertainment. Quite frankly, I have the mindset that if I spend $100 for pure entertainment that has no long term benefit, such as education or relationship building, then its a $100 wasted that could have bought at least 15 foreign language Bibles for persecuted Christians in need of them. Stewardship is a deep subject and really is a different issue than gambling even though people bring the topic up as a distraction point from the real root cause for gambling. Anyhow, I would like to hear you preach sometime regarding the subject of stewardship in the Bible in relation to our 'entertain me' and 'entertain me now' culture. Please let me know if you ever speak on this subject. Thank you for adding some biblical clarity regarding gambling and may God bless you!

#24  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:07 PM


I respectfully disagree with you here. I think when David said everything he and his people owned belonged to God, I believe what he mean't by this is that the Israelites were God's chosen people and they were indebted to God. This was a different situation because everything the Israelites had from food to land were given to them by God. This was shown in Judges 2 when God said to the Isaelites "I have bought you up from Egypt and led you into this land which I had promised to your ancestors".

#25  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:33 PM


Another point I want to make involves how you equate gambling to theft. I disagree with that completely because gambling and theft are two seperate issues. The definition of theft is: The illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely given consent or knowledge. When people gamble they understand the ramifications involved, and since it is a mutual agreement understood and accepted by the parties involved, therefore it does not constitute theft. Also gambling is the act of freely giving money away if one loses. In every other situation this is considered a legal transaction. If I gave you money freely without any strings attached and without a service in return, would wouldn't consider that to be theft, would you? On the other hand if I gave you money because I lost a bet, then you would call it stealing.

#26  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Gambling is based in lust, greed and idolatry. To compare it to any of the risks of every day life like driving minimizes the impact it has on people and on society in general. Before I was a Christian I spent ALOT of time in casinos playing poker. In fact the last year of my poker "career" I didn't want to play but literally couldn't stop. It invaded every area of my life, I would play in casinos, online at work, online at home, and then have weekly home games.

One thing I noticed early on was that I would see the same people playing, both online and in casinos, almost daily. It is highly addictive for the majority of people who play. I for one don't know if there is any definitive scpritural support that gambling is sinful but early on in my Christian walk the Lord convicted me that it was, that not only is it being a poor steward of God's money, it is being a poor example of how a Christian should act. We are ambassadors for Christ, I don't think it is appropriate to go into a building where we have no doubt there are people there feeding there addiction, literally gambling there life away, and under the guise of Christian liberty "entertain" ourselves with a hundred dollars because we can handle it, or that we don't have a problem with gambling. It is the same principle of sitting down with a hard core alcholic to have a single beer. It does not glorify God in any way. If it dishonors our Lord then it is sinful. I don't believe it is a gray area, I have seen alot of people cause serious wreckage in there lives over it and have experienced my share of pain over it as well.

Again, I am looking forward to what Phil has to say about this topic and what the Bible teaches on this topic. God bless..


#27  Posted by Ronald Caruso  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 7:36 PM

My simple input, IF Phil agrees that investing ANY money in the stock market is sin, then i agree gambling in casinos is a sin too. I think they are both the same...losers in stock market as well as winners, whats the difference? Ron

#28  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 8:10 PM


point is that stealing is stealing. If I bet 100 dollars and

a man gave it to me for he lost the bet. That's all he had. Then I will be stealing why, all I care is myself not caring about the guy gave it to me. Just a picture idea.

If I was in a Casino, I would pass out tracts about Jesus not throwing my money away.


#29  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Is comparing a degree in investing with reading a few books on gambling strategies a fair comparison?

For example, I may buy and sell electricity. I don't actually hold the electricity in my hand, put it in back of a cargo van and deliver it to my customer. The buyer will never see the actual electricity. So at times, it appears that I and the buyer are actually playing a game and that I am not actually selling a product. But I am. It is very real. And there is a market, there is competition that effects the value of my product. And somebody studies that market,the ups and downs, ebbs and flows, what has been historically common.

A doctor does that. He treats the patient's symptoms based on a commonality and his experience with such. He has expectations of how the surgery will go. Sometimes he's wrong. But I still feel he is better qualified to do my surgery than the Fed Ex guy. It has nothing to do with the law of probability. It has to do with who is more learned and experienced.

Now I have to rely on my mechanic that my motor won't fall out on the freeway.Doesn't mean it won't. But he is more mechanically educated than myself so I trust his judgement far more than my own. And then after that, realizing that there can be human error, I must depend on God to provide His protection.

Gambling on the other hand has so much more to do with the odds. No doubt, a professional gambler will do better than one who is not. He will know body language better as well as whatever gambling formula exists. But it seems to me, no matter how much experience and gambling knowledge one might have there is still that element of chance that looms. And think about this. Would you ask God for favor when preparing to have open heart surgery and ask him to guide the surgeons hands? And at the same time, could you really be comfortable asking God to bless you with a good hand at the casino? Would our Lord really look at both as needs?

Those are my elementary thoughts because I know little about the stock market and or gambling. I'm certain both subjects can get quite complicated. But this is where I start.

#30  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 9:17 PM

#26 Micah, good post. Nothing like a good testimony from one who's been there, done that. You know it's funny. All people that have addictions usually have "friends" that share their addiction. But notice that the one that quits...whatever that addiction is and goes into recovery normally loses those friends....loses the social circle. So the one true thing that binds them together is the addiction. That was the foundation for the friendship. Built on sand.

#28 Dan, I like your idea...if they'd let you!

#31  Posted by J. Michael O'Berry  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 3:29 AM


While your response was "off the cuff" it was nonetheless direct and to the point and appropriately addressed the issue. This was nothing more than an attempt to justify the behavior. The young man's arguments were hollow. They were based on a false assumption and he displayed an unwillingness to acknowledge sin in his life. His problem is bigger than gambling. He has a rebellious spirit.

#32  Posted by Sena Gbesemete  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 4:11 AM

Wow i sense some hostility in here but lets all remember that we are all sinners saved and that we are trusting God to lead us in his Word right? Lets be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen.

This might not be right but here is what i think about gambling. I do believe that it is wrong us many have been brought to ruins by it. But putting that aside, even if it is not stated in the bible that IT IS WRONG, does the bible not tell us to refrain from using our rights if we see that a brother can be destroyed by us using the freedom of our rights? Therefore should we not refrain from gambling if there are christians who are being destroyed by this form of entertainment which tends to lead christians to become addicts?

Even if we have no convictions of gambling being evil, will we still gamble when we see people being destroyed by it? Is it not better to refrain from it?

With all my love guys.


#33  Posted by Jerry Slade  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 6:37 AM

Great blog, Phil. This is a very good way to examine the issues of day that are not specifically addressed in scripture. I'm not going to try to refute the arguments of those on either side of the argument because this is a spiritual issue and only the Holy Spirit can illuminate an issue to a believer. As Paul said, "to him who knows it to be a sin, to him it is sin."

I don't believe that God's grace will condemn me to hell if I have a low stakes poker came with a few friends from time to time, however, if it becomes a thing around which my week is planned, to the point of distracting me from fulfilling my purpose in the Kingdom, it must be a sin, and probably, somewhere in between, I start to drift out of the close fellowship with Christ that I always want to have. What I have to do is listen to the witness of the Holy Spirit who will reveal the truth about any matter if I want to listen. If I don't want to listen, I can rationalize things or actions away, much like lottery players who promise to tithe on their lottery winnings.

Thank you Phil, and GTY, for providing this forum for learning from each other. Most every response is a building block for coming to the right solution for me, provided I listen with the ear of the Holy Spirit.

My thanks to each of you for participating in this forum because it benefits me greatly as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling.


#34  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Steven asks,

Exactly how do you consider the things in our possession were given to us by God? Even on a Biblical scale that is very far-fetched.

Well Steven, if you have a hard time accepting God's sovereignty in other areas of His creation and the realm of salvation, I can understand why you would say this. So when Job said "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21), this only applied to Job and him alone? Even if you wish to say it was Satan who stole from Job, be reminded that it was God who drew Satan's attention to Job, Satan who accused God of pampering Job with all his material blessings, and God who gave Satan the permission to take from Job. God not only gave, He took away. All things Job had came from the hand of the Lord.

God is the ultimate creator. He can give life, take away life (Deut. 32:39, create peace and calamity (Isaiah 45:7), establishes kings and nations (Daniel 4:32, 35), even creates the blind, deaf, and mute (Exodus 4:11), so to say that God is not the one who gives us our possessions is like saying God is not sovereign over all.


I think when David said everything he and his people owned belonged to God, I believe what he mean't by this is that the Israelites were God's chosen people and they were indebted to God. This was a different situation because everything the Israelites had from food to land were given to them by God. This was shown in Judges 2 when God said to the Isaelites "I have bought you up from Egypt and led you into this land which I had promised to your ancestors".

And, when God gave the Israelites the food and land, God commanded that the Israelites forcibly take those possessions from the Canaanites who were living in the land at the time. Hence, God took from them to give to His people, which is God's divine prerogative.

Jesus said that God sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). Who then are the just and the unjust in his words?

#35  Posted by Arturo Gomez III  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:17 AM

As in the case of false teachers, this individual's answer's towards the "gambling" issue is astonishing. I was grappled by such an appeal to the rationale of his reasoning. In fact, I really was becoming "entertained" by such logic. Yet, this is exactly how Satan works in the twisting of logic in order to sensationalize and rationalize the senses. He gives a somewhat logical "sense" to the issue at hand, namely sin, and sugar coat's it. Even to the point of believing such lies. Just read the Genesis account (chapter 3). When caught off gaurd and away from His Word and away from sound teaching, one will "buy" into and thus "gamble" with their soul; and what profit is that? Well, we know the scripture that backs that up (Mark 8:34-38) in regards to the cost of Discipleship. Thank you brother Phil in enlightening us which a topic that in many ways has been obscured and taken lightly. It is obvious that the real heart of the matter in such cases as is in responses given by individuals such as by this individual still and always will be because of what our Lord stated in Matthew's account chapter 15 verses 18 and 19. That person was definitely a false witness. Beware of false idols and idolatry my friends!

#36  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:18 AM

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#37  Posted by Emily Tanksley  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 8:26 AM

Yes, but Russian Roulette is a mutual game as well... And the Bible never says that suicide is a sin either.

#38  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:15 AM

What about Bunco?

It just occurred to me that maybe this series will also address things that have fallen through the cracks that are usually considered to be the "okay" versions of gambling.

For instance, I know several men who used to get together with their buddies maybe once a month and have a low-stakes poker game (some even played for as little as a dollar). Their wives finally forced them to quit on the basis that it was gambling. But now their wives get together for monthly and sometimes weekly Bunco games! How in the world is this any different??? If we're going to avoid recreational poker games because it's gambling, then don't we need to avoid ALL types of gambling?

Which leads to my next point - church raffles. Even when I was a kid, I did not understand how raffles were okay, but casinos were evil. This was the perception of my home church and I've seen the same thing in many other churches all my life. Same goes for cake walks (where you buy a ticket and a bunch of people walk in a circle on numbered squares until you're told to stop and then a number is drawn to see who wins a cake). Aren't all these types of games only attractive because of the subtle similarity to gambling?

Now I know some may say these are different because the proceeds go to charity, but my point goes back to my comments in Post 18 about Romans 14. We're not just called to avoid evil but also the appearance of evil. Also, what does it say about our church that we have to resort to some type of GAME to get people to give as they should??? Shouldn't our giving be cheerful and done without the knowledge that we may win a raffle or get a free cake out of the deal?

#39  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Phil, I would submit to you that this whole subject of Christian liberty really needs to be thought out in a more biblical fashion. Paul understood that the meat that had been offered to idols was still meat, less expensive meat at that. It was food. It was not “unclean”; it was food, a necessity of life. The problem that Paul was dealing with was that if a younger brother or sister, whose conscience had not yet been fully informed, followed his example, to them it would have been sin and their conscience, rather than being further cleansed, it would have been defiled. How can we faithfully and effectively serve God without having a clean conscience? (See 1 Timothy 1:5) The real question that needs to be asked is “How does gambling (or going to a baseball game for that matter) glorify God?”

When God saves a man or a woman He saves them for a reason. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). I have said it before and this is a perfect time to say it again, “We are exhorted to pursue holiness and we are warned that without holiness no man shall see God” (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness, elsewhere rendered sanctification, is not only a separation from, but it is also a separation unto. Sanctification involves not only a forensic act on God’s part, but also lifelong deadly serious acts on our part. The Greek word rendered pursue elsewhere is rendered persecute. It is the word which would describe hounds pursuing a rabbit or a bear. Since we are exhorted to pursue it, it is not that which is imputed, rather, it must be imparted. It is the “sap” which flows from the Vine to the branch, thereby enabling it to bear fruit. We cannot be partaking of the things which are from below and at the same time set our affections on that which is above. Reader, which is more important to you? Where is your treasure?

“The liberty of a believer lies not in exemption from service, but in service; and surely that man is yet in bondage who does not judge service to be his liberty.” Samuel Bolton quoted from “The True Bounds of Christian Freedom”. –His Unworthy Slave

#40  Posted by Daniel Flaherty  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Thanks Phil & GTY -

I have known and loved John, Phil and GTY since the early '80's - all via the air waves. What a tremendous help you have been in my life!

OK - This gets personal. I work at a family business - it's a bowling lanes where we focus much on family activities such birthday parties, junior leagues, couples leagues, etc. However - we do have a Pub where alcohol is legally served as well as a "Pull Tab" booth where we lease the space to a business that is licensed to sell these gambling items such as the Pull Tabs, "Bar Bingo" and Meat raffles. We receive monthly rent from the organization that runs this booth. My father recently died leaving me the majority of the business - which has been in the family nearly 75 years. I run it with other family members - none of them have a problem with the alcohol or the Pull Tab booth. Since it has been a large part of my working life of over 35 years I have thought of these issues as more of a "gray" area - in the "Christian liberty" part of my walk with Christ. I haven't thought too much about these issues - especially since I work during the day shifts when the majority of our business is of the family variety. Am I being blind to sin being condoned by our family business? Should I get out of the business without being qualified to do anything else? I appreciate advice and discussion.


#41  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I am interested in hearing Phil's defense of being for or against "investing" in the stock market, which is a gamble although it is not very entertaining.

Nonetheless the person who brought the point up is correct that when you invest in the stock market; you are gambling that the market will go upward.

I have a BBA with an emphasis on investing and everyone knows the stock market is a gamble. However, there are investments that are protected (I say that loosely) and guaranteed to gain, but the gain is small and often does not keep up with inflation.

I bought MacArthur's series on gambling and afterward decided he had made a valid argument and quit buying the occasional "Lotto" ticket. I gave the series to my manager who goes to the boats and was not convinced and still goes for "entertainment".

I do believe it is a stewardship issue and when you see ALL things as belonging to God and I do mean ALL things including the next breath; then everything comes into a new perspective. The key is will one act on it or not act on it.

As far as the stock market is concerned; my conclusion was that since these portfolio managers performance is usually gauged against the performance of the S&P 500 and most of them cannot do better and the ones that can do so only for a short period of time, then the best and most stable thing to do, if you invest in the stock market, is to put your money in an S&P 500 mutual fund. Fours years of school to drawl a single conclusion of all that I was taught. I do wonder what God thinks and have not reached any definitive conclusion other than being the best steward that one can be and have a clear conscience before God for many in the market do it for the intent of getting rich quick, while others do it for the future of their children and their own retirement.

#42  Posted by David Johnston  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Steven Xue #5 says "Exactly how do you consider the things in our possession were given to us by God?"

Read the third chapter of The Gospel According to St John where John the Baptist says, 'A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.'

Here 'heaven' is a figure of speech (metonymy of the subject) and means 'God.'

#43  Posted by Scott Graeff  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM

I think we need to say what gambling is, especially for those defending and/or comparing it to the stock market. Gambling is:

1) A game of chance, skill, or betting on an event with an uncertain outcome;

2) There are stakes; each player risks a possession of material value;

3) There is a wager-each player agrees to risk loss in exhange for the opportunity to take the possessions of others.

4) There is no fair compensation-no goods or services of fair value are exhanged for what is lost.

If this is an acceptable definition, then the stock market isn't gambling because there is both a buyer and seller who agree on a price, if they do not, no business transaction takes place. Nor is there a wager. Furthermore, stock provides a way for people to become owners in a company. The intent is to make a profit by producing something of benefit to customers. Investors receive profit in the form of dividends or increases in stock value. While there may be those who gamble in the stock market, buying stock in and of itself, does not meet the definition of gambling.

Another major difference is that a gambler always wants a financial loss to occur, becaue he/she hopes to profit from those losses. When you look at the elements of gambling, particularly the wager aspect, the pro-gambling objections made by comparing gambling to some legitimate activity of life fall apart.

Another confusion being offered up by the pro-gambler is this notion that business and other activities of life involve a gamble. This idea confuses risk with gambling. Why? Because not all risks involve gambling if for no other reaason than that there is no wager or stakes involved.

I don't want to steal Phil's thunder, but I suspect some very tough objections that the pro-gambler will have to come to grips with as this topic unfolds will be:

1) The rules for transfer of property; i.e. the Christian work ethic.

2) Biblical examples of fair exchanges.

3) What constitutes correct Christian giving (Gambling miserably fails this test).

4) Biblical warnings against greed & covetousness.

5) That gambling is in reality covetousness and not entertainment. How so? Because if you take the wager aspect out of gambling, the thrill is gone. The gambler desires to take someone else's property without a fair exchange. There is no giving aspect. Gambling is mutual consent to the sin of covetousness.

6) Stewardship-the gambler is an unfaithful steward.

7) Love: does the gambler love his neighbor as he loves himself? I don't believe that case can be made since the intent of the gambler is the hope for the other person to lose.

8) The love of money is a root of evil. So is gambling as it involves greed and covetousness. Just consider the 'fruits' that surround gambling: poverty, divorce, fighting, family neglect, murder, drinking, drugs, lying, sexual immorality, even suicide-Nevada leads the nation in that statistic.

#46  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 4:57 PM

I 100% agree with Scott #43. Douglas #39 is right too. By the true definition of gambling, there is nothing wise in it and the chances are more that you will lose then you will win. As far as stocks go, although I don't know much about them, the principle is the same. If the stock offers no chance of guarding your money and is more of a gamble, then it is wrong, but a stock that grants partial ownership of a company is not really a gamble - it is an investment in a good or service that is likely going to appreciate.

Also, Christian liberty is always in favor of the offended, not the offending. Meaning if you claim gambling is okay by your conscience, but your brother thinks it is sin and is offended by your gambling, it is the gambler's responsibility to stop gambling, and not the brother's responsibility to get over it.

#47  Posted by Ronald Caruso  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Okay, after reading all this it is my conclusion based on the general Christian perspective, Gambling: SIN Stock Market investing: NOT SIN

As for me, they are both sin. Try short term investing some time and see if you can tell the difference between that and gambling. (i know some will say but NOT long term investing, to that I say whatever. Where does it end?)

I was convicted and withdrew all of His money from the market after losing large sums of His money. BUT, that is MY personal conviction and as we all know my SIN is not SIN for you (when the Bible is unclear as it is with cigarette smoking for example). So, may i say in LOVE i will never JUDGE the man who gambles the stock market or casino, i have a big enough MOTE in my eye! In His Love, RON

#48  Posted by Carolyn Brown  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Hi everyone

I almost fell in the trap that gambing sets for all, but thank GOD i walked away from tail spinning into a full blown addiction. i enjoyed it too much. futhermore with so much need in the world it just felt wrong to gamble. Ask yourself if gambling glorifies God.

#49  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I appreciate Scott’s distinguishing between gambling and risk. Any investment has risks (a business can fail, houses can depreciate in value, banks can fold) but a good steward carefully weighs the risks in order to invest wisely. As has been pointed out, it is the love of money that is a root of evil not the money itself. With the help of the Spirit, one can keep ones heart on the Lord and view money as God’s provision to accomplish His purposes.

#50  Posted by Greg Gallant  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Of all the testimonies and comments I have seen on the GTY blog in past couple of months, #47 Posted by Ronald Caruso is the most honest and forthright of them all.

I commend you sir.

Gal 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

#52  Posted by Adrian Medina  |  Monday, May 23, 2011 at 9:45 PM

Let me first say that I thank God for this website, and faithful men of God like Phil interacting with us. I have been truly blessed by GTY. I have been a follower for some time and I could not help but to put my two cents in on this subject.

I do not understand how gambling in a casino could possibly be equated with investing for your future in stocks, business, real estate, etc.

To me this issue speaks of the parable of the talents that our Lord gave in Matt 25:14-30.

The first two slaves doubled their master's money through some form of investing. The third slave was judged for not even putting his talent to work in a bank account!

The parable of the crafty steward in Luke 16:1-18 shows that you can at least use the evil system of this world against itself, right?

In Matt 10:16 Jesus sends out his apostles "as sheep in the midst of wolves". I am not apostolic, but would it be wrong for me to say I am in the same situation as a christian? There is no doubt in my mind that the system (in general) of this world is controlled by Satan. Should I not also be as "shrewd as a serpent and as innocent as a dove" when dealing with it?

I will do everything in my power to sustain myself and my family into the future with what God provides me. Everything I have is His anyway. I am only a slave. I am curious to see where this discussion goes. Thanks for all your comments!

In Christ

#53  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 3:08 AM

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#54  Posted by Tim Eriksen  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I will assume this post is leading to the same analysis Phil posted five years ago on Pyromaniacs (or some prior incarnation of that blog). I disagreed with him then and still do. Phil is correct that there is no absolute prohibition on gambling mentioned in Scripture. He then essentially says that all gambling is fueled by greed and covetousness and therefore all gambling is wrong. It is at this poitn that he makes an error in logic and thus his conclusion is faulty (that all gambling is always a sin).

Most gambling is fueled by greed and covetousness but not all. The ladies Bunco night, a church or little league raffle, fantasy sports leagues, and even small stakes poker nights are not necessarily fueled by greed. The bottom line is that gambling is a grey area, and while most likely a dark grey area, it is nota always wrong for everyone in every form (which is true of biblical prohibitions).

I know that I am talking about the exceptions to what most think of as gambling, but that is the point. When someone makes a blanket statement that covers all forms, it has to include the smaller segment as well. And Phil's arguments don't hold up.

Should we as belivers be very very careful in this area? Absolutely. Just like alcohol it can be very destructive but that does not make it always wrong for everyone.

#56  Posted by Joe Sekura  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:05 AM

I've enjoyed these blogs and John Mac forever it seems. Finally a topic where I can chime in with some "expert" opinion.

First let’s cut to the chase...gambling is wrong and sinful. That said, likely not as sinful as the judgmental ramblings of some of those trying to ensure that we all know that it is sin. A sin, is a sin, is a sin and a single one can keep an unbeliever from heaven.

I used to be a fairly heavy, everyday gambler. Through the years, as I have continued my Christian walk, I feel (know) God continues to wean me off of my old sins. While I have always considered myself a Christian, up until a few years ago I was unsure if I truly was. But what I have noticed over the past few years is that sins that were a constant part of my life have continually, albeit slowly, begun to disappear from my life. They simply no longer attract me like they used to. Along with that, I am also aware of the intense calling to bring others to Christ. So I'm pretty sure God’s Spirit is now well entrenched in me...

Unfortunately, not everything has been easy to cut loose. Gambling being one of those. I still gamble occasionally, lost $20 on the Kentucky Derby. Years ago, that would have been $200 and I would have gotten pretty upset with my loss. Now for me, it’s simply entertainment. Horse Racing is a sport which I enjoy immensely. But that causes a great conflict in me. I enjoy not so much the gambling part, the part where I may win a bundle, but really more the intellectual part, the race handicapping. However, at the end of the day I know even the $2 wagers I make now are wrong. That $2 was given to me by God and I certainly could find better ways to spend it.

Gambling is addictive. I don't feel I could ever have gotten out of its control by myself. Yes, I still sin now and then but it has no control over me. I used to have to wager every day, now, I can go weeks without a single wager and it's no big deal.But that does not remove the sin from the act.

Yes, I look at it as entertainment. Unfortunately, you can no longer go to a movie, go to work, or to a company dinner, or listen to the radio, watch TV, without being continually bombarded with opportunities to sin. It's just plain tough. In time I know I will get away from gambling altogether. 90% there. But in the meantime, God has convicted my heart and I know it's wrong. Please pray for me to help me with the last hurdle, I'd appreciate that.

Lastly, on a bad week I may lose $50 gambling. However, I've had bad days with my retirement accounts where I have lost thousands...on relatively safe investments. I don't enjoy risk (believe it or not) which is why I invest in relative safety. But that does not eliminate the possibility of losing your life savings in the stock market. I was never ever close to doing that when I gambled heavily. The Stock Market is indeed gambling. There is 100 times more greed, lust and deception there than in all of gambling world.

my .02, Joe

#57  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Maybe it's just me, but I find it almost comical to equate what goes on in a casino with a lady's bunco night or a church raffle.

#58  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM

What about bingo. Smiles.

#59  Posted by Tim Eriksen  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Some do find it almost comical to equate what goes on at a casino with a lady's bunco night, but that is what happens when the issue is poorly framed. The sin is greed, which is always wrong. Gambling is usually wrong because it is usually motivated by greed. In addition for many it is wrong as a matter of personal conviction (i.e. it would be sin for them to do it). That doesn't make all gambling in any form always wrong.

In college I would occasionally bet on a sporting event at a casino. That was sin for me at the the time because it was motivated by greed. Could I do it today and it not be sin for me, possibly. I firmly believe I can play a poker tournament (or at a casino) and it is not sin for me. Nor is fantasy sports, fun wagers while playing golf or bowling, etc.

Lest some think I haven't spent time thinking on this issue. I have. I am an elder at the church I attend. I have thought a great deal about how I would biblically counsel or teach this issue, and I disagree with Phil's approach. His argument is only true most of the time. If he focused on greed the argument would be stronger, such as - Anything you do out of greed is sin. Most gambling would fall under this.

Some posters have mentioned the stock market. Hopefully all realize that buying an ownership percentage of a company is different than gambling. That said, there are plenty of people who do not know what they are doing, and are clearly speculating or gambling, have no knowlege of the business they are buying, nor its intrisic worth, and have lost significant sums of money. Poor stewarship is sin, not investing in the market. (Disclosure - I am also a small fund manager)

#60  Posted by Mike Dillon  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Faith is a gamble, is it not? Although the term, gamble, has a variety of connotations, it essentially means risking the loss of something of value for the gain of greater value. Not all gambles are the same. Gambles, or risks, are an unavoidable part of our lives.

There is no way of proving that faith in Jesus will save a person. If there were then faith would not be necessary. There is a risk in believing in Jesus just as there is a risk in not believing. But when the risks and benefits are analyzed the choice of placing our faith in Christ is far better than the alternative. So, one could say that our faith in Christ is a gamble.

God has given us brains with the ability to store knowledge and He gives us the wisdom to properly apply this knowledge in making decisions that He hasn't explicitly made for us.

If a person makes a monthly income of $1,000 and uses $1 of this income each month to purchase a lottery ticket has he violated the will of God? The man is risking a 0.1% loss of his monthly income for the potential gain of perhaps millions of dollars. Now, if that man buys 3 lotto tickets a day he risks 9% of that income. If that man has prior obligations of providing for his family, tithing, etc... then he is certainly foolish to gamble when the chances of him losing are extremely great. Keep in mind that if we buy a lotto ticket and lose that means someone else has gained. If that person where your next door neighbor would you be genuinely happy for them?

Gambling is not any more of a sin than eating. It's all a matter of what is coming out of the heart, what the motives are. Eating food, like taking risks, is an essential part of life. Eating to satisfy the desires of the sinful nature is sinful.

Do you like grilled meat? You might be gambling with your life. There is a risk that the smoke from the grill might be contaminating your ribeye with carcinogens.

#62  Posted by Michael Schafle  |  Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 8:13 PM

I think the college student's argument that gambling is a better form of entertainment than taking one's kids to a ballgame ignores or overlooks integral parts of each activity. Gambling is a self-centered, self-focused activity; the fun you may have gambling is all about you. It's just you Spending money and your time taking your kids to a ballgame (or Disneyland, or Knotts Berry Farm, etc) is, of course, time spent having fun together and building your familial relationships. The kids are going to remember the fun they had when dad took them to the ballpark, and how they appreciated that he did that instead of sitting on the couch watching TV or doing some other activity that did not involve time, energy, and interaction with them. The ballpark argument also doesn't hold water because if taking your kids to a ballpark is morally on par with gambling, then spending any time or money with/on/for your kids is self-centered... and it would be Biblically impossible to make an argument that spending time with your kids, even if it costs money to do it, is an unwise or immoral use of your money. Finally, even though you may not reap tangible benefits taking your kids out for the day, you DO reap the very real (though intangible) benefits of strengthened family ties/bonds. And you are also teaching them something that they will take to their families when they grow and marry: the lesson of spending time with your kids. So, this kid's "gambling = ballpark" argument doesn't hold up for those three reasons: 1) It's selfish with time and money. 2) Money well spent (good stewardship) doesn't necessarily have to be for only tangible things. 3) You are teaching your kids lessons about spending time with family, something they'll take to the next generation, when you take money and time and use it on them for the purpose of spending time together.

One other thing: gambling is not like the stock market. When you gamble, you know the odds are against you, and you play anyway. And it's essentially all-or-nothing, with the majority of people getting nothing. And it's addictive, there are generally scantily-clad women around (servers, prostitutes, et al), and alcohol is is abundance. And you're taking someone else's money. But the stock market is different: if the company does well, you do well; they use your money to try to do well. If they do, you get a return on the investment. If they do not, you essentially made a loan that that company cannot repay. But if they do well, not only investors but the employees of the company, and the economy, benefit. If they do not do well, you did your part to give them a chance, but their strategy or product did not pan out. That's not the same as giving your money to machine which has odds purposely stacked against you, and that is more often than not GOING to take your money and give you nothing for it.

#63  Posted by Steven Xue  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 7:06 AM


You make a good case for the stock market. It isn't just about making money but also helping the economy, that part I agree with. However what you fail to understand is that almost all of the people, who put their money into the market, don't do it out of the kindness of their hearts. Their key motivation for investing is to make a profit. Just like gambling their fortunes are determined by how well the market does, and if their stocks plummet they will lose money without getting anything in return (if they sell their stock they will lose more money than they put in). So you see ultimately investing in the stock market is technically gambling. It may help the economy (then again some countries and states in the U.S rely on gambling as their primary source of income), but the people who invest are motivated by greed and the sin of coveting.

#64  Posted by Tim Eriksen  |  Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:06 PM


You are not correct in your statement that "people who invest are motivated by greed and the sin of coveting." You appear to be confusing greed with the deire to gain a profit. Greed is an excessive desire for more of something (usually money) for selfish reasons. An investor does desire a profit but is not necessarily doing it for selfish reasons nor necesarily do they have an excessive desire. There is a big difference.

#65  Posted by Pamela Allen  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 3:14 AM

#18 by Bob Browning. Brother, I could not have said it better. When we lose sight of the real reason we are on this planet(to share the Gospel and be an example of the life of Christ)then we make excuses for behavior that does not lead others To Christ. Gambling is a lot of things, Selfish and Self-centered are what make it the evil it is. I trust the Lord to supply All Of My Needs. I do spend wisely, but do not feel the need to invest in stocks. Simple savings is Biblical. Betting the market will "throw you a bone" is not. 'Nuff said!

Blessings to all and thanks to Bob for beautifully stating the obvious!

#66  Posted by Barbara Davies  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 6:32 PM

The thing with gambling is that it affects and infects the whole family, so in that regard, I would term that a sinful thing and I should know as I was addicted to it myself. 13 yrs ago I was in court having been found out as stealing from my then work place and even family. I was spared prison and paid back most of the money I had taken. As with a lot of addictions, the urge to try it again & again is so strong it drives you and I went from a fun loving person to a totally selfish one, only caring about when I could get my next hit. And it wasn't even winning that drove me it was the buzz you get doing it that creates a high. To cut a very long story short, I nearly lost my family, thanks be to God I had a strong husband. Through it I came to know the Lord and after 2 years as a christian and still gambling (just not as much) God showed me that it was a heart issue (meaning I had made it a love in my life) and as soon as I recognised that I repented before the Lord and He broke it off me (there was literally a snapping in my back) and I am amazed to say He took the desire away and I have never gambled again ( 10yrs and counting). So on that note to me it is a huge SIN!!.

Bless you all.

#67  Posted by Tom Jourdan  |  Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 10:13 PM

#16 Edward - It seemed to me that that you were using Adrian Rogers teaching as a basis to come against those that are rightly condemning the sin of gambling.

Edward wrote: But today in America we don't have that (in that form) but there is a group of Christians who think they know better than God and want to limit ones freedom. Adrian Rogers used to refer to them as "professional weak Christians". If they could not show scripture to prove their point they could always fall back on the weaker brother argument.

I have enclosed a link from Pastor Rogers website that defines God's word on this issue which is directly from a message that he preached in mid 2000's. I personally listened to him preach many times on this and many other biblical issues and I can assure you he was not talking of the overwhelming brothers and sisters that are commenting on this site to the sin of gambling. There has been and will continue to be enormous amounts of God's word that clearly prohibits the spirit of gambling posted on this and continuing blogs. One has to be deceived in his own thinking to not see the sin of gambling.

I hope this helps and if per chance I read your blog wrong I am sorry and ask forgiveness. If not, please correct your thinking and certainly don't use the Godly servant and legacy of Pastor Adrian Rogers to support your twisted logic and error. In Christ and always in His Love, Tom Jourdan

#68  Posted by Jairo Reyes  |  Friday, May 27, 2011 at 9:47 AM

thanks this is a good thing.

#69  Posted by D D  |  Friday, May 27, 2011 at 10:00 PM

I bet Phil Johnson is right :)

#70  Posted by John P. Nesbella  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 12:07 AM

@#60 Mike Dillon

You said among other things that: "Faith is a gamble, is it not?"

The answer is no. Faith is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8 reads that "we are saved by grace through faith" and as you may know, "and not of ourselves it is the gift of God". I am burdened to point out to you that no one is ever saved because of there faith or by there faith. It is only "through" faith. In other words, we receive faith as a gift from God (which is being taught of the Father.see John 6:44-45,Matt 16:16-17) It is this gift of faith that enables the sinner to repent and believe. Faith enables the sinner to obey the gospel, it is new life. True saving faith only has the Lord Jesus Christ as it's object. Receiving faith from God is the same as being regenerated. Jesus said that " ALL those who come to Him, He will in no wise cast out"....There is NO gamble involved in knowing Christ! His work on the cross is finished and final. We are kept by the power of God through faith. That is faith is Christ alone... Please receive this in the love of Christ.

Please read 1 Timothy 6: 9-12 which answers your $1 Loto ticket comments.

#71  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Well I posted on the other Gamblin article, so I will chip in my 2 pesos worth but before I post my view on this subject, I might add Phil I will never argue with a Pastor who is trying to show the warning lables on certian life pleasures...and to me this is what Gambling is a life pleasure, some here say it is a sin, to me it is not...but then I must consider my brothers view....and to him I must make my decession.out of trying to condense this as much as possiable...there are many post here about stewerdship and In my opinion Ganbling dont follow in thoes lines, My opinion it follows in LIFE PLEASURES..not in how I handle my lifes finances on retirement raniny day fund etc....I will not quote to much scripture here mainly because it will be thrown back in my face as a MISS QUOTE...and that can GET UGLY...But my view point is very simple go to a Casino or anywhere that has Gambling, place down 50.00 and if you loose it walk away....if you cant THEN DONT EVEN THINK OF GAMBLE AGAIN....WHY? because Vegas and all the other Casino towns are built on the misconseption "I WILL GET IT BACK AGAIN IF I PLAY LONG ENOUGH" you wont!! its not wize to place down another 100-200 to just get back 50.00..Yes there are stories of people hitting it big, people from all walks of life, Christians and non Christians but that is why I lable it a pleasure and not something out of the the question comes up "would Jesus walk into a Casino? Yep he sure would...shocking isnt it..but Jesus was a sociallizer that is why the Parasees dint like him, he drank with the down and outers and was at their parties...I dont like how Pastors would spin this ...he plain and simple can to save the lost and he hung where the lost hung...and if there would of been Casino in town he would of been there.

Now with saying this He would not of been there from the personal Greed of things,but from the prospective of saving a soul.

Yes If I or any of you go into a Casino remember Christ is with us also, if you have a check in spirit, dont go plain and simple Christ is telling you not to. If I win and good sum of money...I usuall take it and when my wife and I are out for dinner, we will usually see a younger couple that is starting out in life and ask the waiter to bring us their secret, that way my winnings are just not going to my selfish desires...One of the best whitness we have for our Lord is praying before we have dinner at a restraunt...out last time in Vegas we were at the RIO at their buffet...and before I ask the Lord blessings before we ate I just glanced around and watched as approx 15 people out of appros 50 were doing the same thing or had done it....when I seen people in our Church or other Christians I know here locallythey did not ask blessing before their dinner in a public is Gambling a sin...SIN is a willfull disobeident act against our Lord...if he says DONT...then DONT plain and simple.

#72  Posted by Justin Lewis  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 10:50 AM


After reading this article, I honestly believe that the argument started with your response. Do you really consider watching a game of baseball with your son entertainment? I see that as much more than what you have stated.

The guy caught you in your words because what many fail to realize is that you don't go to the game with your son and just watch the game or waste money (As a man of God, I hope you don't, lol). Most times, it is an opportunity for a father to bond with his son after spending your hard-earned, honest money for an event (which is not free) that is POSITIVE.

I have realized that people who love their sins also love to justify and debate on why they are right. There is nothing godly found in gambling, so the next time you find yourself talking about this matter just remember what Titus 3:9-11 says. Even if you found every legit and godly reason why gambling is wrong, men with sin in their hearts will deny it and argue you down. The pharisees tried to argue Jesus down to the point of killing the man because He was speaking out against their "customs."

Thanks for sharing this blog! Just try not to set yourself up in the future! :-)

#73  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 11:38 PM

post #72 Justin Lewis said:

"There is nothing godly found in gambling"...correct the pharasees would agree with you!

"The pharisees tried to argue Jesus down to the point of killing the man because He was speaking out against their "customs."..correct again because they killed Jesus for not being religious enough

Just like the rich young ruler...having money wasnt the having him was!

do I glorifiy God in owning and showing off my 57 Chev, 67 Hemi Cuda....I think not because its one of my pleasures that cost lots of money I just know the Lord wants me to have a good time.

But if it ruled my heart and life..its wrong....if I go in and place down 20.00 on a nickle slot machine and play it for approx 2 hours and walk away with 45.00 I have enjoyed a relaxing time....but if I did it to where it ruled my heart and life...again like the rich young then rules you.

Wouldnt you think if I showed my cars to much it would be IDOL worshiping?

Ya see to some its the self rightiousness in our spirit that we tell the other person they are sinning, and we twist scripture to suit our own liking.

#74  Posted by Brad Rogers  |  Monday, May 30, 2011 at 9:04 AM

All gamblers are going to hell. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is. The bible is clear and God's word is final. (quoted from a televangelist years ago).

Hearing this, what is the natural response? Anything from saying that's a misapplication to saying NO, in my case it was only for recreation or ? A person would want to say I bet that if we went to Jesus Himself, and he looked at it, he would side with me, its not a big deal and Im a pretty good person most of the time so it balances out.

Or, there is no clear commandment "thou shall not gamble in thine Indian casino", so it must be okay. I have not even gone inside the Indian casino in my area because I don't approve of the larger group behind it who profits; Plus the slot machines are not really random like in the old days, every penny is controlled by computer and everyone I have talked to complains the slots do not pay. I see that place as a crooked organization based on what Ive learned.

There was a casino there years ago owned by others, the person at the top was an elderly man who was fair, so it didnt bother me to try out the slots if i had the money; one day I had $2 and was there with a friend who worked there, i won $6, then got a nice burger lunch for about $3 and still had $2 and change when i left. I later did work setting up satellite equipment for the casino and they never paid me; then i refused to go back; The man who owned it had passed, the sons were said to have pocketed money as they tried to run it and within months it was shut down. it sat empty for years; Then some unknown group came in, investing millions to build a lavish 'resort', its the biggest employer in this area; I want nothing to do with them.

Betting on the superbowl, used to; now its kind of a joke with a friend where I claim to bet $50 or $100 on a team (i dont follow football anymore) and then if they lose, complain that it was rigged and i dont owe him the money (and vice versa)

I find it so interesting reading about the posts, its not a clearly defined sin in the general term, so then the application is found in parts. 1Tim6:10 The love of money/root of all evil; so is this concept being violated? There would have to be a set of tests done that the believer has to look at and apply. Developing the tests seems to be the challenge.

Who gains money from a bet if you lose it? We must not be partners with groups who work against Christ. That makes sense, money gets sent to those working against Christ, this has to be a test item. And then the lust of money, violating James 4: 1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.