That’s what my flesh was saying at 4:39am one morning when I was awakened (again) by the never-ending barking of my dogs. But what made me get out of bed and deal with them was compassion for my neighbors! They have never complained to us, but I imagine they’ve been tempted to secretly point a gun over the fence…

I know I have.

But instead, I simply got out of bed and found the biggest grandstand cup I could find and filled it with water. As I went out the back (at what is now 4:47am), the dogs barked louder and began jumping on the gate (which makes even more noise) fully expecting me to open it and let them run free in the pasture behind our house.

To their surprise, a large dose of cold water dumped on their heads instead and they were quieted in an instant!

This kind of reminds me of God’s instruction on how to deal with the flesh. His Word says, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires” (Romans 6:12). The key word here is give in.

I could easily have given in to the dog’s demands and just opened the gate and let them out. But that’d be no different than giving in to my flesh when it wants to have its way too. No, on the contrary, the desires of my sinful and selfish nature have to be dealt with–not just pacified.

I love the song “So Long Self” by Mercy Me. One verse  says, “Stop right there because I know what you’re thinking, but no, we can’t be friends. And even though I know you’re heart is breaking, this has to end.” In other words, no matter how much our strong-willed flesh wants to be our best friend, you and I will never be fulfilled or pleasing to God if we always give in to its demands.

Ephesians says, “For anger gives a foothold to the devil” (4:27). We could say “[Any tirades of the flesh] gives a foothold to the devil.” Giving in is not the answer because guess what happens next? Your flesh will expect you to give in again… and again… and again. And the more you and I give in to it, the harder it will be to discipline.

I feel sorry for my dogs sometimes. I know they just want to run wild. And in comparison, I feel sorry for my flesh sometimes too (it’s called pity). But I can’t let it win. A good, cold splash of truth in the face puts my high-spun emotions in their place real quick! Because the reality is, when I “give in,” I’m really just “giving place” to the devil. And that’s a no-no.

So my sincere apologies go out to my neighbors. I am trying to train our dogs. They can’t just have free reign whenever they want it. And if I’m smart, I’ll deal with my flesh in the same way.