Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles

David Powlison
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Safe and Sound by best-selling author David Powlison guides readers to see the normality of their struggles with themselves, the world around them, and the powers of darkness.

Counselors tend to be interested in what they can easily describe: psychological dynamics, social influences, and physiological givens. But how does the uncanny power of darkness fit in with the more accessible factors in a person's life?

By carefully unpacking Ephesians 6 with vivid case studies and biblical wisdom, Powlison helps readers humanize those struggles and bear the relevance of the love of God in Christ for those struggles.

In this helpful guide, Powlison addresses many questions with gospel answers regarding the reality of spiritual warfare, including "What is spiritual warfare?" and "How does Ephesians disciple us in spiritual warfare?"

As part of CCEF's Helping the Helper series, Safe and Sound presents Ephesians as a book about our conflict with darknessÑwithin ourselves, with other people, and with the spiritual forces of evil. Powlison demonstrates how the message of Christ's triumph over all that is evil, dark, and deadly rings true, and how spiritual warfare is our participation in the Lord's cosmic war with darkness.

To stand up against evil, Powlison encourages readers to pray pointedly and listen to Scripture intently, standing with other brothers and sisters in Christ and relying on the strength God himself gives.

*Note: Each purchase of Safe and Sound includes a complimentary eBook copy of Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, also by David Powlison. Your download link will be included in the fulfillment email you receive when your order ships. If you have purchased this resource from another bookseller, please email us at to receive your free ebook.


David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, (1949Ð2019) was a teacher, counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He wrote many books and minibooks, including Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, God's Grace in Your Suffering, and Safe and Sound. David was also the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling.

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"I worked with David for thirty-eight years, so I acknowledge I am biased toward everything he wrote, but this is David at his best: pastoral, connecting dots between Ephesians and Satan's present strategies, opening his own life to us, and opening our eyes to the light of Jesus Christ. More than a book, this is a gift."
Edward T. Welch, Faculty and counselor, CCEF; author of A Small Book about a Big Problem

"Honestly I've always had more questions than answers when it comes to spiritual warfare and demonic activity. So I am thankful for this short, Scripture-saturated book that not only provides clear teaching on what spiritual warfare really is, but also presents appropriate strategies for helping people in the midst of spiritual battles against evilÑthe same strategies we all need for life in this worldÑthe Word and prayer."
Nancy Guthrie, Author and Bible teacher

"This is the best thing I've ever read on spiritual warfare. David Powlison's Safe and Sound equipped me to understand spiritual warfare in a way that nothing else has before. Read it and I guarantee you'll grow in your faith."
Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Washington, DC); author of On Guard and She's Got the Wrong Guy

"I don't think that there is a better book on spiritual warfare. It breaks through the confusion and fear that so often attends this topic with practical biblical insight, carefully given by a skilled surgeon of the soul. Every Christian should read this book so they are prepared for the inevitable battles they will face between the 'already' of their conversion and the 'not yet' of their home-going."
Paul David Tripp, President of Paul Tripp Ministries, pastor, best-selling author of New Morning Mercies

"During his lifetime, David Powlison gave to the church gifts too numerous to mention. His parting gift of this book is no exception. Using Ephesians 6 as a foundation, David makes a compelling case for Christian life and ministry as everyday spiritual warfare empowered by the Divine Warrior himself, our triune God. This is warfare demystifiedÑbattle against the world, the flesh, and the devil waged prayerfully and dependently on your knees with Scripture in your hand and your heart."
Michael R. Emlet, Counselor and Dean of Faculty, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF); author of CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet and Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications

"Safe and Sound protects you from the worst kind of spiritual warfare where you let Satan 'get in your head.' We have the high ground. That's one of David Powlison's many rich insights in this thoughtful book on fighting the powers of darkness. Taking spiritual warfare seriously does not mean letting Satan shape the narratives around his power. He's a defeated enemy, with a fatal wound from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!"
Paul E. Miller, Director of seeJesus; author of A Praying Life and J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life

"David helps us regain the language, perspective, and practice of spiritual warfare from the Scriptures. To counsel is to engage in cosmic battles waged in the normal moments of everyday life. Powlison keeps us grounded by reminding us that we do not wage war according to modern philosophies of naturalism, but with the armor of God and the Sword of the Spirit. In the midst of his own battles with the ever-present shadows of death, Powlison is transparent and vulnerable as he shepherds us to rest in the peace found in God's Word. Expositionally accurate, theologically practical, and winsomely relevantÑyou will do well to read, heed, and guard his timely biblical counsel."
Dale Johnson, Jr., Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors; Director of Counseling Programs at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"What a gift David Powlison has given us in this, his final book. His familiar voice does what it has always doneÑit lovingly joins the dots of spiritual reality to the present reality of life. Hear him well: spiritual warfare is not an occasional oddity, it is the central dilemma of every person's life. This book doesn't just describe our constant battleÑto believe, and repent, and loveÑit also shows us how to fightÑright to the end. And no one who loved David, either in person or through his ministry, will read the final chapter without tears in their eyes."
Steve Midgley, Executive Director, Biblical Counselling UK; Senior Minister, Christ Church Cambridge

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6 Reviews

  • 5
    Great guidance for spiritual leaders

    Posted by SHIRLEY ALARIE on 01 10 2020

    Safe & Sound - Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles paints a clear picture of the spiritual battles we all face, whether we realize it or not. Author David Powlison explains the triad of evil spiritual forces at work: the Devil, the flesh, and the world. We face a constant battle of who we will serve. Our strength to resist is spelled out in Ephesians, where Paul describes the weapons Christians can/should use to combat evil forces. After setting the framework, Mr. Powlison tackles the question at the heart of the battle... what do we do about it? With prayer as the foundation, Mr. Powlison walks through the normal battles that stem from anger, fear, and escapism. Examples of real-life cases hammer home the points and I venture to say that any reader would find their own battles reflected within the examples. With a deeper understanding of spiritual warfare, readers can acknowledge the forces we face on a daily basis. Knowing the tools we have at our disposal to fight against evil is empowering and encouraging. We can take control. The choice is ours. The topic of spiritual warfare and our need to actively resist is presented using examples and language that the average reader can understand. Readers will be equipped to apply some of the concepts to their own life. I was sorry to learn the author passed away in mid-2019 from pancreatic cancer. I had only read one of his children’s books before reading Safe & Sound, but I can tell that the Christian community has lost a major resource with the loss of this great author. May he rest in peace. How this book affected me: In the past, I ignored the idea of spiritual warfare because it scared me when I thought about it. This book taught me a lot in a non-frightening way. Safe & Sound also validated that one of my persistent human flaws is rooted in spiritual warfare. I will be able to apply what I’ve learned to my life and my marriage. Who would enjoy this book: This book is intended for counselors, pastors, and anyone who provides spiritual guidance or counseling. Although it's a technical topic, it's written in common language and will be helpful for individuals who are interested to learn more about spiritual warfare. Our Christian Book Reviews: Finding God Among Us publishes Christian book reviews. We focus on Christian books - adult and children, fiction and nonfiction. We're proud to be included in the Top 50 Christian Book Review Bloggers. I read an ARC from New Growth Press and this review is my honest opinion. I rated this book 4.5/5 stars on my website and rounded up to 5/5 stars when half stars are not allowed.

  • 5
    Powlison at his best!

    Posted by Matthew Cover on 12 10 2019

    Safe & Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles is one of David Powlison’s finest works. Published by New Growth Press, this book was written by Dr. Powlison as he battled stage four cancer. The Lord called him home shortly after the publication of his work on spiritual warfare. The past few works of Dr. Powlison have been short and sweet, providing great wisdom in very concise fashion. This final work of his has proven to be no different. When reading the endorsements of the book, you will find no shortage of praise being given to Powlison and his skillful, rich, insightful writing. Powlison certainly shepherds others as he himself was being shepherded during his own battle with cancer. He leads us to the same satisfying, delightful, comforting Christ that he himself was communing with. So with that being said, I’ll move on to the material being presented in this book. Safe & Sound is broken up into two parts: (1) What is Spiritual Warfare, and (2) Counseling in the Reality of Spiritual Warfare. This layout is very logical and helpful. In order to be able to counsel others in regards to spiritual warfare, we must first lay the foundation of what we mean by spiritual warfare. Powlison walks through the reality of spiritual warfare, and he then discusses how the Apostle Paul understands this topic. The last chapter (Chapter 3) of Part 1 is a discussion of the Lord and how He is our strength (our weapon). Just to highlight a few aspects of part one, Powlison notes that spiritual warfare is “a metaphor for standing on the Lord’s side in the epic struggle between the Lord and his enemies” (pg. 13). It is a “moral struggle” (pg. 13) and “a synonym for the struggles of the Christian life” (pg. 14) and a “battle for lordship” (pg. 14). In other words, spiritual warfare is a reality that every Christian experiences and is involved in. After examining passages that deal with the reality of Satan, Powlison says this: “People and their relationship with God are the focus. So, do speak of the devil, but don’t talk too much. The way you pay attention to Satan is analogous to how you pay attention to other influencing factors: bodily problems, personal history, cultural and peer influences, situational stressors, and sufferings. They are in the mix, but the person as a moral responder always come front and center” (pg. 17). Powlison acknowledges the reality of Satan, but he leaves no room for “the devil made me do it” responses. As a book that is a part of the “Helping the Helpers” series, Powlison moves on in Part 2 to discuss how to counsel others in the reality of spiritual warfare. This is where Powlison shines brightly as a skillful counselor. The reader is able to get a glimpse of how Powlison understands the human condition (sinner and sufferer) and compassionately, lovingly, patiently gets to know those who are sitting right in front of him. You will also notice how masterfully he utilizes God’s Holy Word in the process of helping others. Powlison explains the importance of prayer when helping others. “The reality of spiritual warfare teaches the counselor and the counselee about our constant need for dependence on the good Shepherd. We express that dependence as we pray at all times, for all the saints, and most especially for those that the Lord has entrusted to us to guide and help” (pg. 45). Counselors need to be those who pray often! The last chapter of this book is about the last battle that we will all face: death. This is a beautiful chapter that is perhaps worth the price of the book itself. Powlison mentions that he is dealing with his cancer as he writes, and he is absolutely transparent and vulnerable as he expresses his own thoughts and feelings and sufferings. But more than anything, you can sense that he is indeed safe and sound in the arms of his Savior! As with any book authored by Dr. Powlison, I highly recommend it! It is sure to minister to your own soul while simultaneously preparing you to better minister to others. Disclaimer: My thanks to New Growth Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book on behalf of an unbiased review. The opinions expressed are my own.

  • 4
    A Biblically Faithful Primer

    Posted by Elizabeth Hankins on 12 10 2019

    "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12, ESV). What is this spiritual battle that all face yet cannot see? How does one fight an unseen enemy? How do we think biblically about spiritual warfare? David Powlison wrote Safe and Sound because he wanted " to be awake and alert to the real battles we face" (pg. 1). In Part 1, he carefully examines Scripture to answer questions regarding the nature of spiritual warfare, the role that the Evil One plays in this world, and how we are to stand against him. Powlison faithfully unpacks Ephesians 6:10-20 by examining the Old Testament Messianic passages in Isaiah and Psalms to which Paul alludes (as opposed to the more common, but erroneous, teaching that Paul has the Roman centurion in mind). In so doing, Powlison helps us "...learn how to fight well, how to put on Jesus Christ himself, wearing the weapons of light with which he defeats the power of darkness" (7). In Part 2, he helpfully illustrates what spiritual warfare looks like and applies the wisdom of Scripture to these scenarios. This section, in particular, makes this book unique with its emphasis on and application to personal ministry to other believers. In addition to tackling difficult topics like the occult and animism, Powlison addresses battles with anger, fear, escapism, and death. Coming in at around 100 pages, Safe and Sound is incredibly concise, making it easily accessible to those who are short on time and looking for a biblically faithful primer on the subject of the unseen spiritual warfare in which we all engage daily. I'm happy to commend it. *Many thanks to New Growth Press for sending me a copy of Safe and Sound! This is my honest opinion.

  • 4
    Help for Counselors and Everyone

    Posted by SJ on 11 14 2019

    What is spiritual warfare? Powlison says that it is a part of Christian life -- a battle for Lordship. Every moment, he contends, we make decisions on who we will serve. The promotional blurb for this book said that it “guides readers to see the normality of their struggles with themselves, the world around them, and the powers of darkness.” I liked that perspective. Powlison says that the devil is certainly real, but that we don’t need to overemphasize him. “The person as a moral responder always comes front and center.” He relates a story about a woman in church who began acting in a very disturbing way. Several members came forward, wanting to “exorcise” her. But another man reacted instead by sitting at a distance from her, talking quietly to her, praying, etc. This “normal” approach reached the woman. “Spiritual warfare is not grim or apprehensive, not paranoid or superstitious, not magical or talismanic.” Other interesting bits — Spiritual warfare is about light invading darkness. It’s not all about Satan attacking us — we are to be on the offensive and should take the battle to the darkness. “Turning to Christ is to win spiritual warfare.” In describing a health crisis he and his wife had faced with their daughter, Powlison focuses on Psalm 28. He notes how the Psalmist goes through the emotional register, from despair to peace. He shares that the Psalmist seemingly went through this process much faster than his family did, and that the template here –not the timetable — was the important aspect. Sadly, Powlison died of cancer shortly after this book was written. I have found teaching videos he has made on RightNow Media, and I appreciate his calm, assuring manner both in this book and in his videos. **Thanks New Growth Press for a review copy.

  • 5
    Good explanation of spiritual warfare

    Posted by Jill Potts Jones on 11 12 2019

    "Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles" by David Powlison offers a clear, concise explanation of spiritual warfare, why we need to know how to battle in the spiritual realm and how to be strategically prepared.  Powlison teaches scriptural ways to deal with the common battles we all face as well as tackling more difficult situations such as the occult, animism and death. The most helpful chapter was "Strength and Guidance for Personal Ministry" which includes a detailed section on how to pray at all times for every saint, including yourself. It appeals primarily to those involved in counseling others; however, there are great tidbits for every believer who wants to deal effectively with his/her spiritual battles. Powlison earns high praise from readers which is well-deserved.  If you are unfamiliar with spiritual warfare and/or want to learn how to be victorious in battle, "Safe and Sound" needs to be in your library. You will refer to it often. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Growth Press through Audra Jennings PR. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  • 4
    For pastors and counselors

    Posted by Joan Nienhuis on 10 30 2019

    This is a book for counselors. It is about how to help people stand up to evil. Many Christians do not understand they are in a spiritual battle, that it is an everyday part of every Christian's life. Since the term, spiritual warfare, does not appear in the Bible, Powlison explores what it means. He identifies three areas: being on the Lord's side in battle with His enemies, the moral struggle in our hearts, and the struggles in our Christian life, including lordship. Powlison reviews the armor Paul lists in Ephesians. He had some insights I've not seen before, relating the pieces of armor to counseling. Truth, for example, refers to the lies of the world, the devil, and our own hearts. They could be lies about God or about others. Counselors help uncover the lies and apply the truth of Scripture. Righteousness embraces not only our salvation but also living out that righteousness in how we treat others – doing right and good. An Appendix in included regarding demons and exorcism, downplaying them both. This seemed like it might be a controversial issue to me. Counselors who want to have nothing to do with confronting demons will like this Appendix. I am not a counselor but I learned a great deal from this book. Counselors and pastors would do well to read it. While you may not agree with everything in the book, there are many insights about helping others in spiritual warfare included. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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