What is the sin nature?

The doctrine of the sin nature is not very popular. Even many Christians balk at the idea that all people are by nature guilty before God. Those churches which believe in the sin nature do not often teach the concept. The sin nature is also referred to as original sin and, among theologians, imputed sin. What is it?

The sin nature is the part of the person that is corrupted by sin. The sin nature is more than people committing sinful acts. The sin nature is the idea that every person is spiritually damaged. The broken part of the being produces the performance of evil deeds. 

The idea of a sin nature is found in Scriptures in the contrast between the old man and the new man. The old man is that which is natural to man and is displeasing to God. The new man is that which is supernaturally created by God in the believer with the ability and desire to live for Him. Statements like, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19) teach that man possesses a sin nature. The truths, “There is none righteous” (Romans 3:10) and “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) express the universal nature of original sin. When Christians say every one is a sinner we mean that every one does things which violate the commands of God and we mean that corruption in the person moves him to break God’s laws. 

The sin nature is something more than the evil deeds done by a person. This truth is made evident in several key Biblical passages. In Ephesians 2 All the unsaved are called “the children of disobedience”. All who have not received the saving grace of God are “by nature the child of wrath.” Left to their natural state all humans are in disobedience to God and are under His wrath.

Psalm 51 says the person is tainted by sin from the very moment of conception. (Incidentally, this passage is one reason why Christians believe life begins at conception. A lump of tissue cannot be guilty of sin.) “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is not just an action, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a word or a conscious choice of a mature individual. Sin is a state of being. Sin is something bound up in the nature of the person that produces sinful actions. 

The sin nature is not the physical part of the person. Body, blood, muscle, tissue and DNA are not sinful. Jesus was a flesh and blood person who possessed all the attributes of humanity. He had a normal human body yet was without sin. Likewise, Adam and Eve possessed physical bodies and were normal human beings before they sinned. Satan is the father of sin. He is an angel, a spiritual being who lacks any physical substance. The physical part of man is not the sin nature.

The sin nature resides in the spiritual part of the man. When describing the source of evil in a man, Jesus traces it to the heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil . . . evil things come from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:20-23) Man’s problem is a spiritual one. Sin erupts from the corrupted heart to affect all parts of the person. The sin nature is in the heart of man and is the spiritual corruption of the individual.

Advertisements

Is Evil Necessary?

Certain religions and philosophies see evil and good as eternal forces that will always exist in the universe. Both are necessary for the right operation of the universe. Evil and good are opposites that require each other. If there were no evil, there could be no good. The yin and yang is a classic picture of this viewpoint.

A more modern version of this concept is the idea that evil is absence of good. Just like dark is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat so evil is the absence of good. Since there is light dark must also exist. Since good exists, there must also be evil. But must it?

Evil is not necessary. God existed for eternity before creating the universe. God existed without evil. God continues to exist without evil. God will exist through all the eternity to come without evil. Evil is not necessary to God, but what about to men?

When God created the universe everything was perfect. Satan had not rebelled and man had not sinned. How long things lasted before sin is unknown. The universe functioned just fine without sin.

Evil is not just the absence of good. Evil is the rejection of God. Sin originated in Satan when he determined to rebel against the rule of God. Sin came into the world when man doubted the goodness of God and chose to reject God’s commands in favor of a promise to be like God. Evil is always the rejection of good and rebellion against God.

Evil is not necessary. Evil is sand in the gears of creation. Evil is a destructive influence that hinders the proper working of all things. Evil and all the consequences of sin- death, pain and sorrow- are not necessary. They will not last. The present age is marred by evil but this age is short.

A time is coming when all evil be removed from the universe. All of wicked humanity, all the rebel angels and Satan himself will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The influence of evil upon the universe will be removed.

The universe that now exists is entirely corrupted by sin. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” (Romans 8:22) God will destroy this universe. “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10) God will create a new universe which will be as perfect as the original creation. Revelation 21 and 22 describe the coming universe as eternally unstained by sin.

Evil is not necessary. Evil exists for a brief time, but the eternal universe which is coming will be forever free of sin and all its consequences.

Are some sins worse than others?

Jesus said that if a man lusts after a woman he has committed adultery with her in his heart. If a man is sinfully angry with another he faces condemnation similar to that of a murderer. The entire human race was plunged into sin and condemnation because Adam and Eve ate one piece of forbidden fruit. Does this mean that all sin the same? Is committing murder as bad in the eyes of God as telling a white lie?

Sin is always wrong. Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount point to the severity of all sin. God in His holiness does not overlook a single sin, no matter how small or how justified it may seem to a person. No circumstance will ever exist where it is better to sin than not to sin. God hates all sin. Whether or not all sins are equal all are evil. The relationship of sin to other sin and the varying degrees of response to sin never justify committing sin.

The Bible speaks directly about the degrees of severity in sin. Sins can rightly be classified as greater or lesser. Jesus told Pontius Pilate that the priests who rejected Him and turned Him over to Pilate for execution had the greater sin. “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:11) Though Pilate gave the official command to crucify Jesus and the Roman soldiers carried out the command it was the Jewish priests whose sin was greatest.

Evidence for different severities of sin is seen in the differing levels of judgment upon sin. Jesus warned cities of Galilee of the greater judgment waiting for them because they rejected Him. (Luke 10:13-14) Hebrews says, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28-29) Those who have greater knowledge of right and wrong are accounted as having committed a greater evil when they sin.

One word of caution must be given. Men often fail to measure the severity of sin according to God’s standard. God is not unjust because He regards sin differently than we do. We consider sin differently than God does because we have been infected by sin. Our ability to make a proper judgment about sin is compromised by our own sinfulness. God’s measurement of sin must be the one that controls all understanding about sin.

All sin is terrible. Some sins are more terrible than others. God alone determines what is sin, how serious is the sin and the consequences of sin.

Is it judging to call someone a sinner?

“Judge not that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 is possibly America’s favorite verse. Almost every disapproving statement is greeted with rebuke as being judging. Declaring something is sinful is considered by some as the height of judgmental behavior. This is an important issue for Christians who are attempting to preach the gospel. The gospel message requires an understanding of personal guilt. How can anyone turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sin if he does not realize he is a sinner? Why would anyone turn to Jesus for salvation if he has done nothing deserving condemnation?

Yes, calling someone a sinner and identifying behavior as sinful is condemning. From a Christian perspective the declaration that something is a sin is the same as saying something is bad and should not be done. How does this apply to a person? Is the statement that someone is a sinner a declaration that the person is to be avoided? To be clear, saying someone is a sinner is a statement of condemnation. It is as pleasant as being told you have terminal cancer. It is a declaration that the person is not fit to stand before God and deserves eternal punishment. The statement that a person is a sinner is a statement of condemnation but it does not mean the sinner is to be avoided.

Sinful behavior must be rejected, but not sinful people. Christians have not been sufficiently clear on this distinction. Sinful people are not to be avoided, except in special circumstances. Calling someone a sinner is a socially loaded and theologically significant allegation. When a Christian declares a person is a sinner, he is doing so after having already come to grips with the reality of his own personal sinfulness. Like most others, the Christian realizes he has done bad things. However, the Christian’s recognition goes further. The Christian has recognized he deserves eternal punishment in hell because of his sin. The Christian has recognized the Son of God suffered a horrible death and endured the wrath of God because of his sin. When a Christian says you have sinned, he has already included himself in that assessment, confessed his guilt and grief and plead with God for forgiveness.

Though calling someone a sinner is a hard statement, it is not a declaration of hopeless condemnation. It is in fact much like being told you have cancer. The avowal that one is a sinner is a dire diagnosis of a disease that will end in suffering and death. Like many cancer diagnoses calling someone a sinner is the first step in treating the disease. All are sinners and if left untreated the disease will be eternally fatal. The diagnosis of guilt prepares the way to present the cure. As Jesus said, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” Yes, calling someone a sinner is a hard statement that will agitate many. When it is said as it ought, it is not a statement of condemnation but one of compassion.

What can be done about racism?

Racial differences are surface differences of color and culture. Beneath the trivial external variations all men are created in the image of God. The American religious landscape is dotted with perverse teachings claiming certain ethnic groups are not created in God’s image. Some have said the curse of Canaan is why black people will be slaves or poor. Some have said that blacks are not actually descended from Adam but from another group that was created by not given a soul like Adam and Eve were. Similar stupidities have been spouted about Indians, Mexicans and Eskimos. No teaching of racial superiority or inferiority is found in the Bible. The Biblical reality is that every person who has ever lived is a descendant of Adam and Eve. As a result, every person of every color and culture bears the image of God. Every person on this planet carries within the unique mark of the semblance of the Divine. All men share a common origin, common heritage and common created representation of God. Racism is not only an attack on others, it is an attack on the image of God.

The problems between ethnic groups are not caused by the intrinsic differences between groups. The problems between the races are caused by the intrinsic similarities between all people. Men do not hate others because they are different. Men hate others because of the sin, pride, selfishness, jealousy and hatred that resides naturally in every human heart. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Romans 3 describes all men, “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Destruction and misery are in their ways.” Racial violence and tensions are not because a few men are racists. The problems between races are just one expression of the universal selfishness and hatred that characterizes all mankind without Christ. As long as men are without Christ they will find an excuse to hate others. The solution is not found in taking down all nationalistic or tribal symbols. The solution is not fostering dialog between different groups. The solution The solution is replacing the commonality that divides with a commonality that unites. The solution is the transformation of the heart and relationships that can only be produced by Christ.

This transformation and unity is to be modeled withing the church. Jesus prayed that all His disciples would be one, even as He and the Father are one. The church is a community that is characterized by it’s cross cultural communion. In the church station, privilege and importance are not defined by familial heritage, personal income or political power. In the church “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free:” In the church all the redeemed are “all one in Christ.” The work of Christ on the cross has removed all national, language and culture barriers between people. In Christ, Christians are made members of a new people group. Christians are now a “holy nation, a peculiar people.” Surface diversities are nothing when compared to the essential unity between men. Racism will end when man’s sin nature is replaced by the new nature of Jesus.

Is homosexuality a sin?

Recent months have seen increased discussion about the permissibility of homosexual marriage. The public debate will probably continue for many months. For many who have a religious background the debate has gone beyond what is publically permissible to center on what the Bible teaches. Some churches have declared the Bible does not teach homosexuality is sinful. Some churches have become more ardent in their protests that homosexuality is sinful. With these issues certain to stay in the public eye for quite a while, it is necessary to answer the question, does the Bible say homosexuality is a sin.

The answer is really very simple. Yes, homosexuality is a sin. The Bible plainly and repeatedly condemns homosexuality. Jude 1:7 identifies homosexuality as one of the reasons Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed. The Mosaic law specifically forbade any kind of homosexual behavior, including cross dressing. Romans 1:25-27 speaks of those who have rejected God and the punishment of their idolatry. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Romans 1 identifies homosexual behavior as the punishment of rejecting God. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle to be embraced, but Divine judgment that should promote repentance not rejoicing. 1 Corinthians 6:9 includes homosexuality, “abusers of themselves with mankind”, in the list of sins which will not be found in the true child of God. 1 Timothy 1:10 says that homosexuals, “them that defile themselves with mankind”, are behaving in a way that is opposed to truth.

These are the specific Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality. Added to this is the Biblical definition of the only category of permitted sexual behavior, that which occurs between and man and his wife. The commands against all forms of illicit sexual behavior always encompass homosexual behavior. To state the case succinctly, the Bible plainly forbids all sexual desire, fantasy or activity outside the relationship of a man and woman in marriage. God’s Word does not just condemn the action it condemns the lusts. How any one can attempt to offer legitimate argument against the Bible’s clear statements is rather baffling. The statements of the Bible are plain. The only way to read the Bible as giving anything other than a consistent condemnation of homosexuality is to make one’s own ideas and philosophies more important than the plain reading of the Bible.

Why do bad things happen?

The world is filled with scenes of tragedy. The world’s woes show in gory detail that all is not right with the world. The calamities that affect every person and place on this globe have prompted some to wonder about God. If there is a God who is all powerful and rules everything, why does He allow terrible things to happen? If God is good, why does He let so many bad things take place? These questions are sometimes phrased in such a way as to imply that disaster proves God does not really exist.

The Bible provides a coherent explanation for the existence and purpose of misfortune and misery in this world. The history of bad things begins at the very beginning. God created everything and everything He created was perfect. Everything worked as it was intended. Death, tragedy, sorrow and despair were nonexistent until God’s creatures began to rebel against Him. The rebellion began with an angel named Lucifer, who was joined by countless other angels in opposition to God. Lucifer then persuaded Eve to disobey God and eat the fruit He had forbidden them. Adam joined Eve in disobedience and the whole human race was plunged into sin and death.

Following Adam and Eve’s sin, God spoke to them and declared judgment against them for their rebellion. In Genesis 3 God tells Adam, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” The sin of man brought down God’s judgment which encompassed all creation. Everything in creation is now cursed because God’s creation rejected Him. The apostle Paul declares in Romans 8, “We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” All of creation groans in intense agony because of sin. Bad things happen because man rebelled against God. God does not delight in the suffering anyone, but He will always be just. Sin will always be punished. Part of that punishment is the present suffering that fills the earth.

To decry the goodness of God because we don’t like the consequences of our sin against Him is foolish. Such outcry is a bit like a guy in prison complaining that the other inmates are mean to him, the guards don’t like him, his bed isn’t comfortable and he doesn’t get to decide in which cell he sleeps. Judgment is not pleasant and has consequences far greater than the mere pronouncement. A sentence of imprisonment always involves many inevitable unpleasantnesses. The sentence of death that came upon the world involves many unpleasant deaths and much suffering along the way. This is not to make light of the severity of suffering. Compassion moves us to aid and comfort those enduring greater agony because of sin. God in His mercy has done much to mitigate the severity of man’s suffering in this life.

God in His wisdom has not removed all the painful, present consequences of sin. The tragedies of this life serve a good purpose. The sorrows of life cause us to turn our eyes upward. What good would it do us to go through life free of pain, free of sorrow, live to a full age and then die peacefully in our sleep? The warnings of the judgment of sin would seem empty and even kind of silly. The suffering of this world remind us that we live in a place broken by sin. The sufferings of this life remind us that the consequences of sin are terrible. These tragedies remind us of sin’s horror and provide opportunity for repentance. The mercy of God gives men a temporary taste of sin’s judgment that they might be motivated to turn from sin to Him for salvation.

How do I know if something is sin?

The Bible tells us what things are sin. 1 John 3:4 says, “sin is the trangression of the law.” Sin is anything which breaks God’s law. To know God’s law, then you have to read the Bible. In the Bible God tells exactly what He commands people to do and what He commands people not to do.

To understand the commands of God, one has to read the Bible. The Bible was written to be understood by normal people. Scripture was not written to make sense only to those who have special training or advanced degrees. It was not written to make sense only to those who know the secret code to unlocking its hidden meanings. The Bible was written to be understood by everybody. The words do not contain hidden meanings. Work will often be necessary to understand what is being taught but the words of the Bible mean what words usually mean. Do not read it looking for hidden meanings or waiting for some internal impulse to give significance to the words.

When going to the Bible to learn God’s commands, there is a lot of territory to cover. Despite the length of the Bible, God’s laws are not difficult to understand or figure out. Two passages should guide ones thinking about sin. First, Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great comandment.” Most important in understanding what is sin is how we think about God. God is to be the most important in your life. Nothing- not self, desires, plans, friends, family, job or any other thing- is to be more important than God. If something displeases God or becomes more important to you than God, that thing is a sin.

Second, Romans 13:9-10, “If there be any other commandment, it is briefly summed up in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love works no ill to his neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” After considering if something is pleasing to God or is more important to you than God, sin is considering self as more important than others. If something is harmful to someone else then, that thing is certainly a sin. An important distinction needs to be made. What others like and what is actually good for them is not always the same thing. Kids like ice cream and might want to eat ice cream at every meal. They might also cry and complain and tell you how bad it makes them feel to have to eat green beans, but a good parent is going to make them eat what is good for them not what makes them feel good for a little while. That which keeps the law does what is genuinely good for others and does not do anything which harms another.

If you want to know if something is a sin ask yourself two questions, does this action show that God is most important to me and does this do any injury to another person.

Why did people in the Bible live so much longer than we do today?

Anyone reading through the book of Genesis will soon notice people lived a whole lot longer than they do now. A little math in Genesis 5 will reveal that Adam died at the age of 930. His son Seth lived to be 912. Methusaleh died at the age of 969. All but three of the first ten patriarchs lived over 900 years. After Noah’s flood human lifespans dropped dramatically. The first death recorded after the flood is of a man 239 years old. For the next several generations, most of the men lived 175-250 years. By the time of Moses, the recorded life spans were much closer to our own. After Moses no generation had an average life span significantly longer than those of modern man. For the first quarter of human history, man appears to have averaged a life span of nearly 1,000 years. (Genesis 5) Over the next 1,500 years man appears to have averaged a life span of around 200 years. (Genesis 11) Throughout the second half of human history, up to today, the life span seems to average around 70 years. Why the changes? What happened to man?

The Bible does not give us any definite answer to this question, so we are left with speculation. It seems that two things are the primary factors in the incredible decrease in human life span. First is the destructive effect of sin on the world and the human body. When man sinned he immediately fell under the penalty of death. Man was separated from God who is the only source life. (Genesis 3:8) This separation from God results in physical death. (Genesis 3:19) Not only did man’s sin bring death, it also brought a curse upon the entire world. As man moved farther and farther from God, the effects of sin upon his life would have become more and more pronounced. Romans 8:22 says, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” All creation is in agony because of sin. The human body has been devastated by sin and the effects continue to wreck our health and strength today.

The agony of sin’s curse includes an environment that is inimical to human life. The other factor in man’s shortened lifespan is the radical changes in the world after the flood. We do not know for certain anything about the world before the flood, but we can be confident that the world immediately after the flood was a world ravaged. The living conditions after the flood were much less conducive to life than those pre-flood. To add to the harsh conditions of the flood shattered world, at the tower of Babel the language of mankind was confused and population scattered. The population became divided in small groups and driven by God out of the area, isolating pockets of people from the rest of humanity. The difficult conditions brought about by man’s continued rebellion against God would have horribly diminished man’s life.

All speculation aside, we know that death is the result of sin. No matter how long men may live, death is inevitable. Death is not the result of errors creeping into our DNA, or certain proteins no longer working properly. Death is the result of man’s separation from God. Only reconciliation to God through the forgiveness of Jesus will remove the spectre of death and give men eternal life.

Does the Bible talk about gambling?

The Bible talks about casting lots, however, that is not the same thing as gambling. Casting lots was a means used, primarily in the Old Testament, in decision making. ItGambling is the transfer of wealth from one person to another through the means of chance. The two are not the same, since in the first there is no money or valuables being offered up by the players to put at stake. Let me start by giving you a definition of gambling. In this definition and my answer to follow, I am indebted to another pastor, Phil Johnson, for his thoughtful work on this topic. Gambling is a game of chance played to win a prize that is obtained at another gamblers expense. You know how it works, two or more people put up money towards the outcome of a game. The winner collects all the money, the losers forfeit their money that they gambled. Does the Bible say anything about gambling? Not directly. There is no specific prohibition against gambling, nor is there any specific commentary on any people gambling. In fact, the closest thing we find to gambling even being referred to in the Bible is during Jesus’ crucifixion when the soldiers cast lots to see who would get Jesus’ robe. However, the Bible does speak to some things that usually motivate the gambler to risk his money.
 
Before I talk about what the Bible says, let me answer a couple common arguments regarding gambling.  First, assuming risk is not the same as gambling. Risk is inherent in our life. We cannot avoid it. The moral issues in gambling do not arise because of the risk involved. In a gambling contest, the winners prize comes from those who lose. His increase is as a direct result of their loss. Consequently, investing in the stock market is not the same as gambling. When a stocks value increases, its increase benefits all the stockholders. One stockholder does not gain at the expense of the others. Instead, real wealth is created and all are benefited. Similarly, a farmer who plants a crop takes a risk. He could lose his crop all the money he has invested into it. However, if the farmers crops are successful he has increased at his own expense and no one else’s, real wealth has been added into the economy. In gambling, all that occurs is the transfer of assets from one hand to another, without adding any real wealth. One’s gains are provided by another’s losses. So what does the Bible say about this?
 
First, the Bible speaks to covetousness. Covetousness is the desire for someone else’s possessions. Gambling is the attempt to win someone else’s things. Many say they gamble just for the entertainment. If that’s true, why don’t they play for points instead of money? Would you spend an afternoon sitting at a slot machine if it cost you nothing and there was no prize money when you won? I venture to say the vast majority of those who say they gamble only for entertainment wouldn’t play the games if there was no money involved. The excitement and fun of gambling comes from the possibility of winning that which the others have put at stake. Make no mistake about this, when a gambler wins, he is winning from the other players. Even in a casino or a state funded lottery, the prize money is always put up by the other players. The house and the state never lose. The prize always comes out of the pockets of the players. The willingness to enter a game for the specific purpose of winning that which is someone else’s comes from a heart of covetousness. Covetousness is explicitly and repeatedly forbidden in the Bible. One of the ten commandments forbids the coveting of your neighbors goods. Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 tell us that covetousness is idolatry. To covet another’s possessions is to worship a god other than the God of the Bible. To engage in a game for the specific intent of taking from someone else is nothing less than to covetousness and is forbidden by God.
 
Secondly, and very closely related to the first, the Bible warns about the love of money. 2 Timothy 6:10 warns that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Is there any doubt that most gambling is driven by a love of money? Does not the gambler enter into the game with the express goal of getting an abundance of cash? Does not the promise of large winnings drive one to take risks they would not otherwise take? A gambler is motivated by his love for money. God declares the love of money to be the root of all evil. From the gamblers money loving heart springs a plethora of wickedness. Gambling has long been associated with many other major vices, the devaluation of the home, the loss of work ethic and a general weakening of the community. Gambling is rooted in a love of money and it fuels a greater love for money. It is an accomplice to all kinds of evil. Jesus warned His disciples that it is impossible to serve both God and money. You will serve one or the other. No one who desires to avoid sin and to please and serve God will participate in that which aids and abets all kinds of wickedness and which prevents genuine service to God.
 
Covetousness and a love of money inevitably produce in a life a desire for quick gain. The Bible warns that the desire for easy money results in troubles and sin. Proverbs 15:27 says, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.” Proverbs 28:20 says, “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Proverbs 28:22 says, “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye.” 1 Timothy 6:9 says, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” The lust for riches, especially easy money, is the way of foolishness, bringing with it sin and troubles. Instead, the Bible teaches that men are to labor diligently, providing for the needs of life through responsible work.
 
As I stated already, every single time someone gambles and wins, the winnings come from other gamblers. The gambler does not win at the expense of the house or the state. His winnings always comes from the other gamblers. Think for a moment about those who participate in gambling. Studies have shown that those in the lower income brackets are the ones who gamble the most. My personal experience is that the ones who do the most gambling are the ones who can afford it the least. Every time someone wins, the majority of the money they win has been put up by those who can ill afford to lose. The gamblers desire for gain has blinded him to the fact that he is participating in the “redistribution” of wealth from the poor into his own pocket. Proverbs 22:16 says, “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches shall surely come to want.” Even though they are voluntarily risking their money, the mutual consent does not eliminate or lessen the moral evil. When one does hurt to another person, the others agreement does not lessen culpability. As an analogy, if two men decided to go out to onto the highway and ram their cars into each other, their mutual consent will not lessen their responsibility for injury inflected on the other. Instead, there is the possibility of increased responsibility because they conspired together   Rather than justifying the sin, now all parties are responsible for promoting and participating in it. The mutual consent in gambling does not lessen its moral evil. Gambling is nothing more than sanitized thievery, in which parties have agreed to allow their possessions to be taken by another, that is immoral and despicable.
 
When you play poker, why don’t you keep score to see who wins the most hands? Or trade worthless chips back and forth? Why do you play for money, even small amounts? While the Bible does not specifically prohibit gambling, it is definitively forbids the attitudes and desires that fuel much of gambling.
 
Justifying gambling by professing to help fund education or by promising to give a portion of it to a church or charity does not lessen it’s evil. Gambling, though not forbidden by name in the Bible, is a sin that violates several clear commands of God. The Bible clearly forbids the attitudes and desires that fuel much of gambling.
The Bible talks about casting lots, however, that is not the same thing as gambling. Casting lots was a means used, primarily in the Old Testament, in decision making. ItGambling is the transfer of wealth from one person to another through the means of chance. The two are not the same, since in the first there is no money or valuables being offered up by the players to put at stake. Let me start by giving you a definition of gambling. In this definition and my answer to follow, I am indebted to another pastor, Phil Johnson, for his thoughtful work on this topic. Gambling is a game of chance played to win a prize that is obtained at another gamblers expense. You know how it works, two or more people put up money towards the outcome of a game. The winner collects all the money, the losers forfeit their money that they gambled. Does the Bible say anything about gambling? Not directly. There is no specific prohibition against gambling, nor is there any specific commentary on any people gambling. In fact, the closest thing we find to gambling even being referred to in the Bible is during Jesus’ crucifixion when the soldiers cast lots to see who would get Jesus’ robe. However, the Bible does speak to some things that usually motivate the gambler to risk his money.
 
Before I talk about what the Bible says, let me answer a couple common arguments regarding gambling.  First, assuming risk is not the same as gambling. Risk is inherent in our life. We cannot avoid it. The moral issues in gambling do not arise because of the risk involved. In a gambling contest, the winners prize comes from those who lose. His increase is as a direct result of their loss. Consequently, investing in the stock market is not the same as gambling. When a stocks value increases, its increase benefits all the stockholders. One stockholder does not gain at the expense of the others. Instead, real wealth is created and all are benefited. Similarly, a farmer who plants a crop takes a risk. He could lose his crop all the money he has invested into it. However, if the farmers crops are successful he has increased at his own expense and no one else’s, real wealth has been added into the economy. In gambling, all that occurs is the transfer of assets from one hand to another, without adding any real wealth. One’s gains are provided by another’s losses. So what does the Bible say about this?
 
First, the Bible speaks to covetousness. Covetousness is the desire for someone else’s possessions. Gambling is the attempt to win someone else’s things. Many say they gamble just for the entertainment. If that’s true, why don’t they play for points instead of money? Would you spend an afternoon sitting at a slot machine if it cost you nothing and there was no prize money when you won? I venture to say the vast majority of those who say they gamble only for entertainment wouldn’t play the games if there was no money involved. The excitement and fun of gambling comes from the possibility of winning that which the others have put at stake. Make no mistake about this, when a gambler wins, he is winning from the other players. Even in a casino or a state funded lottery, the prize money is always put up by the other players. The house and the state never lose. The prize always comes out of the pockets of the players. The willingness to enter a game for the specific purpose of winning that which is someone else’s comes from a heart of covetousness. Covetousness is explicitly and repeatedly forbidden in the Bible. One of the ten commandments forbids the coveting of your neighbors goods. Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 tell us that covetousness is idolatry. To covet another’s possessions is to worship a god other than the God of the Bible. To engage in a game for the specific intent of taking from someone else is nothing less than to covetousness and is forbidden by God.
 
Secondly, and very closely related to the first, the Bible warns about the love of money. 2 Timothy 6:10 warns that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Is there any doubt that most gambling is driven by a love of money? Does not the gambler enter into the game with the express goal of getting an abundance of cash? Does not the promise of large winnings drive one to take risks they would not otherwise take? A gambler is motivated by his love for money. God declares the love of money to be the root of all evil. From the gamblers money loving heart springs a plethora of wickedness. Gambling has long been associated with many other major vices, the devaluation of the home, the loss of work ethic and a general weakening of the community. Gambling is rooted in a love of money and it fuels a greater love for money. It is an accomplice to all kinds of evil. Jesus warned His disciples that it is impossible to serve both God and money. You will serve one or the other. No one who desires to avoid sin and to please and serve God will participate in that which aids and abets all kinds of wickedness and which prevents genuine service to God.
 
Covetousness and a love of money inevitably produce in a life a desire for quick gain. The Bible warns that the desire for easy money results in troubles and sin. Proverbs 15:27 says, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.” Proverbs 28:20 says, “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Proverbs 28:22 says, “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye.” 1 Timothy 6:9 says, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” The lust for riches, especially easy money, is the way of foolishness, bringing with it sin and troubles. Instead, the Bible teaches that men are to labor diligently, providing for the needs of life through responsible work.
 
As I stated already, every single time someone gambles and wins, the winnings come from other gamblers. The gambler does not win at the expense of the house or the state. His winnings always comes from the other gamblers. Think for a moment about those who participate in gambling. Studies have shown that those in the lower income brackets are the ones who gamble the most. My personal experience is that the ones who do the most gambling are the ones who can afford it the least. Every time someone wins, the majority of the money they win has been put up by those who can ill afford to lose. The gamblers desire for gain has blinded him to the fact that he is participating in the “redistribution” of wealth from the poor into his own pocket. Proverbs 22:16 says, “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches shall surely come to want.” Even though they are voluntarily risking their money, the mutual consent does not eliminate or lessen the moral evil. When one does hurt to another person, the others agreement does not lessen culpability. As an analogy, if two men decided to go out to onto the highway and ram their cars into each other, their mutual consent will not lessen their responsibility for injury inflected on the other. Instead, there is the possibility of increased responsibility because they conspired together   Rather than justifying the sin, now all parties are responsible for promoting and participating in it. The mutual consent in gambling does not lessen its moral evil. Gambling is nothing more than sanitized thievery, in which parties have agreed to allow their possessions to be taken by another, that is immoral and despicable.
 
When you play poker, why don’t you keep score to see who wins the most hands? Or trade worthless chips back and forth? Why do you play for money, even small amounts? While the Bible does not specifically prohibit gambling, it is definitively forbids the attitudes and desires that fuel much of gambling.
 
Justifying gambling by professing to help fund education or by promising to give a portion of it to a church or charity does not lessen it’s evil. Gambling, though not forbidden by name in the Bible, is a sin that violates several clear commands of God. The Bible clearly forbids the attitudes and desires that fuel much of gambling.