A recent article featured on CNN Money spoke of an interesting predicament that many people are facing these days. The website reported:
“Of the 2.8 million deaths reported to the Social Security Administration last year, approximately 14,000 people's names were incorrectly entered in their online database as dead. That many people, 1 out of 200 entries, were reported as dead when they were very much alive and well. That's 38 life-altering mistakes every day. One day, Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, suddenly stopped receiving disability checks. Then, her loan payments and rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to find out what was the matter, and the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead. They would only reopen her accounts if she could prove she was alive.”
That story got me thinking. If you were in a similar situation but were required to prove that you are alive not physically, but spiritually, could you make your case? A re-phrasing of the same question might sound like this, “If you were convicted of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you in a court of law?”
Fortunately, we have the little letter of 1 John in our New Testament to help us do a spiritual checkup. One of the reasons why this book was written was so that believers could know if they were truly saved and had fellowship with Christ (5:13). There are several tests of assurance that John gives in this book to prove our spiritual pulse.
First, there is the test of our confession, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (5:1). We must confess that Jesus alone is our Lord and Savior. In today’s society it is en vogue to say that there are many ways to salvation. But those who have been truly born again know that Jesus alone is “the way, the truth and the life.”
Second, there is the test of our change, “You may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (2:29). We must look at our lives and see if there is a noticeable change in our beliefs and behavior because of Christ. It’s safe to say that if your belief hasn’t changed your behavior then it doesn’t mean very much. Is the Gospel daily transforming your thinking, giving, marriage, and love for the lost?
Third, there is the test of our compassion, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (4:7). Do we have the heart of Jesus? We can tell by the way we love, the people in our church, work, neighborhood, etc. Love is the badge of the believer and the way that the world will know if we are disciples of Christ.
Fourth, there is the test of our conflict, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (5:4). When you are genuinely born of God, you’ll be growing to be an overcomer as you deal with temptations like the lust of flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life (2:15-17). You may not win every time, but you are making noticeable progress to gain victory over sin. An unsaved person does not struggle with sin, because they do not have the Holy Spirit pricking their heart.
So, how did you do? Are you dead or alive? These are just a few ways to check if have we flat-lined spiritually, or if we are in a vibrant relationship with Christ. In the words of Paul let us each “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). -DM
 Blake Ellis, "Social Security Wrongly Declares 14,000 People Dead Each Year," 17 August 2011 CNN Money <http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/17/pf/social_security_deaths_mistakes/>