He says he believes in God, but then again, so do the demons (James 2:19). So how can you know–really know–if he’s a Christian?
Give It Time to Know if He’s a Christian
Well, I have good and bad news.
Bad news first: There’s no way to 100% guarantee this guy will walk with God for the rest of his days. Only time will prove whether God has truly made him a brand-new creation. As 1 John 2:19 says, “. . . if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (emphasis added).
You’ll especially want to not hurry this relationship along if this guy’s pursuit of Jesus coincides with his pursuit of you.
But the good news is: Even if this guy should someday turn away from the faith–After all, trusting God doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending this side of heaven, does it?—God will still hold tight onto you (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Four Questions to Ask to Know If He’s a Christian
With prayer and wise counsel, you can at least determine the current trajectory of this guy’s life and prayerfully make the wisest decision you can. Here are four questions to ask yourself and others as you seek to know if he’s a Christian:
1. Does he understand and articulate the gospel clearly?
Ask him to share his spiritual journey with you. As you listen to his story, don’t expect his testimony–or spirituality–to look or sound just like yours. Yes, 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.” But that “old” and “new” isn’t always as dramatic in some lives as in others. More important than the “drama” is his clear understanding of the gospel. Listen carefully to how he talks about the gospel. If his understanding of the gospel feels fuzzy, ask more questions like,
- “What specific sin caused you to see your need for a Savior?”
- “Why did Jesus die on the cross? What did His life, death, and resurrection accomplish for you?”
- “What does it mean to you that you’re ‘in Christ’ now?”
2. Does his life produce good or rotten fruit?
In John 15:1-8, Jesus likens Himself to a vine, and His followers to branches connected to Him. As we stay connected to Him, we bear fruit. Good fruit. Lots of fruit.
Galatians 5:22-23 gets specific about the type of fruit Jesus’ Spirit produces in our lives:
Do you see more of this God-enabled fruit in his life or more evidence of the “works of the flesh” listed in Galatians 5:19-21?
Anyone can claim to be a Christian, but as Jesus says in Matt. 12:33, “The tree is known by its fruit.”
3. Does he confess or hide his sin?
Let’s be real: You won’t always see the fruit of the Spirit flowing from his life. After all, he’s not Jesus.
But do watch for this: When this guy fails to keep God’s commands, does he confess and repent of his sin? Or does he seek to hide and make excuses for it? First John 1:8-10 shoots straight. “If we . . .
- Say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
- Confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
After observing an interaction Trevor had with his dad while we were dating, I wrote this in my journal:
I admitted to Trevor that I worry I might be getting into a relationship with an angry man. He said he was sorry multiple times and that:
- I didn’t deserve that.
- He would be repenting of his sin.
- He’s still growing out of selfishly thinking his sin only impacts him and the person he’s sinned against.
He said he already has some action ideas for what to do next. And he said a lot, “Anything I say feels worthless ’til you see some change.” Trevor has modeled humility time and time again in our conversations. He has also not hidden sin from me, but confessed it.
Does this guy you like hide his sin or confess and turn from it?
4. Is he a committed member of a local church?
One that preaches the gospel and not works-righteousness? It’s true that church attendance doesn’t earn you points with God. But at the same time, there’s no such thing as a lone-ranger Christian. Unless this guy is unable to attend church regularly due to something like a serious illness, he should desire to regularly gather with other members of the family of God. (Also, I’d encourage you not to make this important assessment alone. Meet with his church elders and/or yours to find out if they affirm his profession of faith.)
I’d love to hear from you. Are you currently dating–or considering dating–someone whom you don’t know if he’s a Christian? Or, do you have any other helpful tips for those who are feeling unsure about the guy they’re into?
PS: If you think others could benefit from this post, please right-click and share this final picture–or even just a link to this post–on your social media feed or with a friend via email.
PPS: If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in reading “How Can I Know If He’s The One?“
Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.