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Can We Play the Lottery?

The word "covet" is found (in various forms) eighteen times in the Old Testament and twenty-two times in the New Testament. Webster defines covet: "to desire (passionately) [especially, something that another person has]." The Greek meaning of the word is "to fix the desire upon (syn., lust)."

The Christian is bound by the Law of Christ with such passages as Colossians 3:5, "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry." The nature of covetousness is the act of idolatry. In this realm, God is not put first but the fleshly desire for wealth. Observe the kind of company covetousness keeps: "Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil- mindedness; they are whisperers" (Rom. 1:29).

The apostle Paul warns Timothy of what men will become in turning from the Lord: "For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy" (2 Timothy 3:2). To be "lovers of money" is the very nature of covetousness. In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus teaches His disciples that life is not about the things we possess. "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (v. 15).

The true danger of covetousness is that a person will lose their soul and be damned to hell for it. Paul speaks very plainly when he describes those who will not be saved: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Consider again Paul's words, "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Eph. 5:5).

The lottery is very popular in our culture and has caused a lot of people to spend millions of dollars trying to win an elusive prize. For the Christian, the money is not the problem, rather the heart that desires the riches of this world. Playing the lottery is the sin of covetousness and the Lord reminds us that covetousness will damn a soul to Hell. "'No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.' Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him" (Luke 16:13-14). Will you also deride the Lord Jesus Christ by playing the Lottery? "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Eph. 5:3).