Ask Your Preacher
Can Christians play the lottery?
Dear Feeling Lucky,
The Bible never specifically mentions the lottery as a sin, but it doesn’t have to be specifically mentioned to be wrong. There are a great many things surrounding gambling that are sinful. Consider that:
1. Gambling focuses around money and greed. God warns us clearly about being fixated with money (1 Tim 6:10, Heb 13:5). God wants us to be satisfied with our income (Eccl 5:10). Contentment is a major component of spiritual maturity (1 Tim 6:6).
2. Gambling is used as a means to gain money without working for it. God finds pleasure in people working for their livelihood (2 Thess 3:10-12, Pr 10:4).
3. Gambling wastes money because, ultimately, the house does always win. God expects us to be good stewards (1 Cor 4:2) and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8).
4. Gambling and the places where gambling occurs are often associated with other sinful things. There is a reason Las Vegas is called “Sin City”. That industry is not one that a christian should be supporting (2 Cor 6:16-17).
Gambling is addictive. We can only have one master (Lk 16:13).
If you practiced witchcraft just for fun, and you’re a teenager, are you automatically going to hell, and if so, can you change it?
As long as we are living, there is time to change our lives. Astrology, mysticism, séances, horoscopes, palm reading, witchcraft, etc. are all sinful. God condemned that behavior in the Old Testament (Isa 47:13-14). King Saul was put to death by God for seeking a woman that practiced divining (1 Chr 10:13). Any Jew that was found visiting a ‘medium’ or ‘spiritist’ would be cut off from His people (Lev 20:6). When someone became a Christian, they confessed sorcery as evil, and many of them burned their books of the magical arts (Acts 19:18-20). If we want wisdom, we should seek it from God (Jas 1:5).
You mentioned that you did it just for fun and that you didn’t realize the implications. Many sins are that way, but that doesn’t excuse the sin. If you are driving down the highway and fail to note the speed limit… ignorance won’t stop the police officer from giving you a ticket. When mankind makes choices in ignorance, those choices still affect us (1 Pet 1:14). The way to receive forgiveness is to turn to the Lord, and He will give you forgiveness. Read “Five Steps To Salvation” for exactly what it takes to be forgiven.
I teach high school agriculture, and as part of an Animal Science class, we have been discussing animal rights vs. welfare. I had a student pose a question, and I wasn't sure how to answer. The question is: is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) a christian organization or atheist? This was inspired by referencing animals being used for sacrifice and also being told which animals are clean/unclean, etc. The Bible does show use of animals, and I was curious as well what stand a christian should have toward an organization such as PETA. I hope this makes sense.
Dear PETA Pondering,
PETA is definitely not a Christian organization. PETA believes that animals deserve the same level of care and respect as humans. Though humans have the responsibility to keep and protect the Earth (Gen 2:15), we are also given dominion over it (Gen 1:28). Animals and humans may share some similarities between their physical bodies – but humans have eternal souls. The key verse to understanding this topic is Eccl 3:21. Human spirits are made in the image of God (Gen 1:26), unlike animals. When people die, our souls go to God and await the Judgment (Heb 9:27). When animals die, they simply cease to exist.
The difference between humans and animals can only be appreciated through God’s Word. Without the insight that the Bible gives us into the Creation, we would never know that there is a difference in value between a human and a cow. Human life has value above and beyond animal life because God says so. Without God’s Word, we’d never know.
What do you do if you have a bad addiction to something sinful?
When a sin becomes so entrenched in your life that you are enslaved to it (Jhn 8:34), you are dealing with an addiction. Addictions are formed by habits, and habits are formed by repeatedly making the same choices. James describes this process in Jas 1:13-15. All sins begin with a mental decision. If you want to remove an addiction, isolate the choices that are putting you in the position to commit that sin. If you change the environment and circumstances that lead you to a sin, you change the future playing field. One of the easiest ways to do this is to let someone else know about your struggle (Jas 5:16). There is strength in numbers (Eccl 4:12), and exposing a sin takes its power away (Jhn 3:20). When we are willing to seek help, we are ready to win.
I hear people say Jesus is God; I also hear He is God’s Son; then I hear He is both... so who is Jesus besides just our Savior?
Begin At The Beginning
Dear Begin At The Beginning.,
There are three parts to the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is most easily seen in Matt 3:16-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Each of them is eternal (they were all at the creation – Gen. 1:1, Gen. 1:2, Col 1:15-17). John 1:1 specifically says that Jesus is Deity. Jesus is different than the Father, but He is part of the Godhead. Jesus even said that He had always existed (Jhn 8:58). The apostles worshipped Jesus as God (Jhn 20:28).
Jesus was also God’s son because He was given a physical body by God (Heb 10:5, Matt 1:18). Jesus also obeyed the Father as a son would obey (Jhn 5:19). Jesus was also the firstborn Son because He is the firstborn of the church – God’s children (Rom 8:29). Jesus is completely deity, but He also has a unique role as the only member of the Godhead to have also lived in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16).