How to Tell if He’s a Christian

Sweet girl,

I hear a really nice guy has been showing you a lot of attention lately. I know you’ve gone on a couple dates, and you like him a lot. He’s told you he’s a Christian, but you’re not sure how strong he is in his faith.

Maybe he is a Christian; maybe he isn’t. I don’t know. But here are a few thing I do know . . .

Be on the lookout for the fruit of faith. Anyone can claim to be a Christian (just like anyone can claim to be an astrophysicist), but there should be
evidence of Christ’s transformative work in His followers. James (Jesus’ brother) puts it like this:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14, 17, emphasis added).

Pay attention to how this guy lives. Is he living like a young man who has been redeemed from the slave block of sin? Or is he still living like a slave to sin (Rom. 6:15–23)? Put him to the test (1 John 4:1). I’ve included one below.

You shouldn’t have to wonder if this guy is a Christian or not. It should be obvious. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

No, he’s not going to be perfect. Yes, we’re all in process. But if he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

If he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

Trust me on this one. You don’t want someone who maybe, possibly, probably, hopefully is a Christian. One who just barely squeezes by. You want a thriving Christian. A white-hot Christian. A young man who is well on his way to being able to lead you spiritually.

So here are a few questions to ask about him, straight from 1 John:

  • Does he walk in “light,” or does he walk in “darkness” (1 John 1:6–7)?
  • Does he confess his sins, or does he claim not to have sin in his life (1 John 1:8–10)?
  • Does he keep God’s commandments, or does he live differently than Jesus lived (1 John 2:3–6)?
  • Does he love others, or does he hate others (1 John 2:9–11, 4:7–21)?
  • Does he love the Father, or does he love the world and the things in the world (1 John 2:15–17)?
  • Does he confess that Jesus is God, or does he deny that Jesus is God (1 John 2:22–23)?
  • Does he practice righteousness (1 John 2:29) or does he make a practice of sinning (1 John 3:4–10)?
  • Does he believe that Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, or does he not believe this (1 John 4:2–3)?
  • Does he have the Spirit of God? The Son of God? Or is he just doing life on his own (1 John 3:24; 4:12)?

If the majority of your answers were on the right side of the comma rather than the left, this guy is not for you, nice as he might seem. God is the
treasure in this life—and in the life to come—and you will want a man who will consistently point you to this treasure . . . through his words and his life.

How about you? Are you currently dating or considering dating someone you have doubts about? Where does this post find you today? I’d love to hear from you.

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on

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  • Giovanna

    Please what do u mean by “white-hot Christian”?

    • Oh, sorry for the confusion, Giovanna! I meant someone who is passionate about God; someone who is wholeheartedly pursuing Christ and being transformed by Him. Hope that helps!

    • Jocelyn Hill

      A flame is hotter in the center. When you burn a match, you see the orange and red flame, then the tiny blue in the middle that’s even hotter. The white is the super tiny, but incredibly hottest part of the flame. 🙂

      • I didn’t even know that, Jocelyn. 😉 I’ve just heard the expression. Thanks for explaining!

        • Jocelyn Hill

          You are most welcome. God bless!

      • Deena Maga

        Kay , thanks for the explaintion.

  • Natalie

    I’m dating a guy who displays the fruits of the spirit well. Nonetheless, doubts exist. Of all places, my doubts arise from his lack of proper Christian terminology. Growing up in an evangelical free church, I was surrounded by guys who used the right words. They were “in love” with Jesus, they “dug” daily into the Word, and “strived not to conform to this world”. Yet, when I compare their lives to that of the guy I’m dating, he seems to be more humble and Christ like. He grew up in a reformed church and was “confirmed” and baptized at the age of 14. Confirmation seems odd to me, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t really give their life to Christ. It’s a bit foggy to me. He told me that he’s not comfortable with super emotional Christians who sob and dance at church. I’m not either, but I’d like him to express his love for Jesus more. I’m sure that if he were raised the same as I, that he’d naturally know and say the words we all use. It’s just conflicting since he walks the walk, but doesn’t openly talk the talk. I was reading 1 John 3:18 yesterday and I feel that the guy I’m dating embodies this. Or he’s just fooling me… I honestly don’t know. Every time I bring it up, he says he’s still growing and doesn’t want to be inauthentic… This makes me simultaneously admire and doubt him. He also doesn’t pray before meals, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a thankful heart. It’s just not the way he was raised. I’d always imagined finding a man who couldn’t help but burst with words of praise and adoration for God. This is lacking, but he’s very reserved with other things. Perhaps it’s just his personality. Does the way he live make up for the lack of verbal praise and church terminology?

    • Dear Natalie,

      I’m so glad you wrote.

      The fact that he doesn’t know Christian lingo shouldn’t deter you from dating him. But do keep your eyes wide open and move slowly. Hang out together with wise, godly believers whenever possible and ask for their input.

      Does your boyfriend attend a solid, Bible-teaching church today? Has he told you how he came to be a believer in Christ (not just confirmed and baptized)? How would he say Christ has transformed his life? Does he pursue God each day through time in His Word?

      Some nonbelievers can put believers to shame with their morality and humility. So you need to seek to learn whether your boyfriend is operating out of his background and personality, or out of the power of the Spirit. Learn–through time–what he truly loves. Pray for much wisdom.

      I can’t give you an “he’s in” or “he’s not,” but I’m sure that you will learn and grow lots through this experience.

      I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in a few months.



  • Becca<3

    Thanks so much for this today! Something a little unrelated though, it’s just something I thought of yesterday. I was at the pool with my former rowing team, and a bunch of my girlfriends were wearing bikinis (while only myself and two of my friends wore a one-piece). I noticed one of the lifeguards was fairly good-looking, and a thought passed through my head “Maybe he’ll notice me!” the thought/hope immediately died when I realized that my attractive girlfriends wearing bikinis would be far more likely to catch his eye. It kind of depressed me, but I tried to ignore it. So I guess my question is, do guys notice girls who dress modestly? I mean, I know christian guys really appreciate it when girls help them in this area and cover up, but can I still catch someone’s eye if I’m not flaunting my body?

  • Deena Maga

    Hey, Paula thanks for this blog, but I was wondering what do you mean by a White-Hot Christian. Just asking to clarify. But I do agree on what you were saying.

    • Sorry for the confusion, Deena! I meant someone who is passionate about God; someone who is wholeheartedly pursuing Christ and being transformed by Him. Check out the comment by Jocelyn Hill below as well. Hope that helps!

      • Deena Maga

        Thanks, will do!!! 😊.

  • Alexis

    This post popped into my inbox right on time! A guy from high school just messaged me on facebook yesterday. I barely talked to him in high school so it was a bit strange to see a message from him. He was quiet in high school and nice. But I never knew if he was a Christian or not. Thanks for this post!

  • I’m so glad I read this!! This is a question I’ve asked multiple times, and whenever my mom and I talk about this, we always mention that if I’m wondering if he’s a Christian and can’t tell or if it’s not obvious, that’s not good. Thank you for this reminder!

  • Juliet

    After reading this article I can’t help, but still be a little extra cautious. I’m just beginning my journey as an adult. I’ll be starting college in August and I believe that I might find someone who loves God and me in the next four years. I’m just scared. I’ve never dated before and I’m eighteen! I can’t talk to my friends, because they assume I’m being too rash, some even think I’m a prude! (those are the ones I’m working on their heart). I wouldn’t rush into things, but just the thought of finally having someone with me to share my journey with will be nice. This post helps alot in looking for that special someone even if it does take all four years of college. Anymore advice? Beginning a journey close to alone(Always have God😉) is difficult and I could use any advice!!😊

    • Dear Juliet,

      Nothing wrong with being 18 and not having dated! In fact, you have the advantage, in my opinion. I think my hubby was 26 when we started dating, and he had never dated before. What a relief that was to me!

      Also, don’t think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t date in college. I expected to find a guy in college too, but I never did.

      Blessings as you begin college!


    • asle

      Don’t rush, just pray, God already prepared the man for you. This is what I always say to someone who seems in the rush…. it will be worth waiting for. You’re 18, what if God says the right time will be at your 25th years. Just imagine the things would happen because you can’t wait you rode the wrong bus where it takes you away from the right one….:-)…. All I want to say is, don’t try to find the one, he will be the one to find you. God will direct him to you….:-)…. Will, an advice from a 25 years old who never been in a relationship…hope you’ll consider…

  • asle

    I’m smiling reading this one, one of my problem when a non christian or those who just called their self Christian court me, I don’t know how to turn them down. And when they started to ask what kind of guy do I like….:-)… one guy who annoys me by always asking this one, because I don’t want to disrespect him, I keep quite but he annoys me so I tell him, my ideal man is a Pastor..:-)…

    • Lol. You tell ’em, Asle!

      • asle

        well, I don’t tell them directly..telling them that they need to be Christian is like telling them that they need to be handsome…:-)… So, I just show them that I’m not interested…:-)

  • Mimi

    My guy fits all of the criteria. Im glad! Thanks for the post!

  • Katie

    I have the most amazing man. He’s so good to me and everyone around him. He prays continuously, and directs me to God when I need it. But there’s one BIG problem… when we got on the subject of Jesus being the ONLY way to heaven, he said he never knew that before! My heart sank. God is the center of my life, but I wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with Him if I didn’t have faith in what Jesus did on the cross (the gospel). I want nothing more than a husband to lead my home and children with the gospel at the forefront. I’m heart broke and I know that he’s not the one for me because of this, but I can’t seem to find the words to tell him; or make myself walk away from him.

    • I can tell you are very disappointed, Katie. Before you walk away, it sounds like you need to have a deeper conversation about this subject with him and perhaps even get a godly older man (perhaps your dad) involved in helping this young man to see the truth in this area. He may need some discipling and shown from the Word this essential truth. Would that be a possibility? He needs to know that Jesus is the only way and embrace that truth for the sake of his eternal life. Another man would be the perfect one to take this on.

      I’m praying that God will open a door to talk this through with your boyfriend and that he would be open to meeting with an older man for some discipleship.

  • Carmella Lewis

    Okay so I’m dating a guy and I have been for the last couple months and wasn’t a Christian before we started dating. He was excited by church at first and always asked questions until he decided to follow and call himself a Christian. He wanted to be baptised and everything. However now as the months have moved on he’s stopped attending on a Sunday with me and using excuses to get out of it. He says he doesn’t feel like he fits in. How can I help him? He struggles with mental issues like anxiety and depression and anger and also grew up with a bad family experience. Please can you guys pray for opportunities for him and how can I myself help him along his path? How can I help light his fire?

    • I appreciate your heart to help this guy. The best thing you can do for him is to pray for him. While your desire is to help him and to “fix” him, only God can do that. So taking him to the Lord and praying for his heart and for a deepening of a relationship with God is a very powerful thing! The other thing we would recommend is that you see if you can connect him with an older godly man from your church who can mentor/disciple him and walk with him through this difficult season.

      While you may not want to hear this, Carmella, it might be good to step back from your relationship for a while so that he can focus on his walk with the Lord and get that relationship stronger. It could be that he really doesn’t have a relationship with God and that it was all talk. Or it could be he just needs more time to grow. Getting him connected with an older godly man would be so helpful.

      I’m praying right now for your courage to entrust this guy into God’s hand. God cares so much more for him than you ever will! I’m also praying for his heart to truly want to know and follow hard after God.

  • Jordie

    I’m just getting to know this guy…any advice on how to find out if he’s a Christian without making it too awkward? He acts very well, it just hasn’t really come up yet (we just started college together). I want it to come up before I fall too hard for him…

    • You are wise to want to know if this guy is a believer before you begin to have feelings for him. As Paula says in this article, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in his life. Go back and re-read the article to see what you can discern. Take a look at her questions from 1 John and hold them up to this guy. If you still aren’t sure, the best thing to do is simply ask him. Let him know how important Jesus is in your life and then ask him his thoughts. Praying for your courage and your discernment, sweet sister!

  • Kate

    So I have been getting to know this guy that I really like. He is one of the kindest and loving people I know and he really is an amazing person. I know that he was in a relationship before where they were both christians, but I still feel unsure of his faith. It’s a very new thing and I don’t know how to find out how he really feels about his faith and I’m nervous to ask. I’ve never been in a relationship before, so this is very new to me. Any advice?

    • I know it may seem hard, but it is so very, very important to know that you are building a relationship with a guy who loves God as much as you do. As Paula shared in the article above, there should be fruit visible in his life. Then it is as simple as asking questions, Kate.

      You might consider sharing with him what you are reading/learning in Scripture. Ask what his thoughts are on that. Or let him know that you were thinking about (some aspect of your walk with the Lord) and ask him how he views that. You can share with him that God is the center of your life and you want to serve Him and honor Him all the days of your life. How does he feel about that?

      Cover this in prayer, Kate, and then ask. We are praying for you, sweet sister!

      • Kate

        Thank you this really helped! I followed your advice and talked to him about what God has been doing in my life lately and my faith and it started a really great conversation about our faith and how important it is to look to God for our purpose in life and follow in his footsteps. I’m still going to take more time talking to him more about Christ, but this got us off to a good start! Thank you!

        • Thank you for letting me know that you had the “hard” conversation. I’m so thankful to know that it has started the ball rolling for more and deeper conversations. God bless you, Kate!

  • Krista Brewer

    This isn’t about dating, but I have a friend who continually think I lie to her. And maybe I do, but it’s never been on purpose. I’m just curious, I know God is the only One who TRULY knows your heart; if she sees that I’m lying and not knowing I’m lying (to me, I’m NOT lying), will that affect whether I go to heaven or not? I’m lying but I don’t know I’m lying. To me, I ALWAYS tell the truth, so would God look at me as lying or someone who honestly doesn’t KNOW she’s lying?

    • Dear Krista,

      Thanks for commenting!

      I’m confused. How can you lie without knowing you’re lying? That just sounds like more lying to me right there. (I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I do want to be honest with you.)

      It sounds to me like you need to own up to the sin of lying. And it is a sin. A serious offense against our holy God. Why?

      Because He is the God who never lies. You can always, always, always take Him at His word. His promises have no expiration date.

      He has created you and me in His image. We are created to represent and image Him rightly to the world around us. When we lie, we are not reflecting Him, but Satan, the “father of lies.”

      If you don’t repent of this sin and trust in Jesus to act as your substitute as the perfect God-Man who never lied, then no, you will not go to heaven. But if you confess and forsake your sin, God will have mercy on you because of Jesus.

      I hope that helps.



  • Holly Daye

    Bullet point 2: Does he confess his sins, or does he claim not to have sin in his life (1 John 1:8–10)?

    I think you should add repentance to that equation, for what good is confession if there is no repentance? I knew a guy who admitted he knew what he was doing was wrong, and he even admitted he has known for a very long time that he has these traits. But for as long as I had known him, he never made any efforts to change. He enjoyed control, abuse, and manipulation just as much as a non-Christian does.

    • Absolutely agree with you, Holly. As one of my friends says, “The Christian life is one of continual repentance.”

      FWIW: The reason I didn’t mention explicitly mention repentance is ’cause I was basing all the points off those particular verses, and those particular verses mention confession. But I think all the points taken together show that repentance is necessary. Otherwise, we wouldn’t do things like “practice righteousness.”

      I’m so sorry for this guy who turned you off. Praying now for him and for you!

  • Jessica Gardner

    Im not 100% sure if my boyfriend is a christian or is pretending to be one just to date me.
    He says things at church are confusing for him and he thinks that people at life group don’t like him which is not true. I really want a partner that wants to go to church with me. I’m scared to just ask him and do not want to offend him tho I believe that communication is key… I know that the word says that “you will know that you are my disciple by your fruits..” I know that fruits in the dictionary says actions and results… He is a new christian and still smokes… How do I know? I know that in The Bible it also says to not offend children of God.