Francis Schaeffer, in his book True Spirituality, discusses what it really means to be a Christian. It is an excellent, well thought out book. His basic idea is that we need to recognize that we live in a total universe, in which God exists and in which Christ's finished work on the cross is sufficient. And that we are called in this universe to really die by choice to certain attitudes and desires so that we can truly live resurrected lives here and now by faith in Christ.
Concerning the part about dying to certain attitudes and desires, Schaeffer extrapolates much from the command, "Thou shall not covet". He shows that coveting what we shouldn't (which is just another word for 'desire') is something which is involved in breaking any other command from God we break. He explains that we must really die to self by not giving into things that we might actually 'desire' for the sake of our own spirituality and for the sake of others. Here is what Schaeffer says,
"'Thou shalt not covet," shows that these negative attitudes are not related just to outward behavior, but to inward attitudes. Here is our death, in reality...We are to say 'no,' by choice–to die to self–at the point when we are in the midst of a living, moving life which could want the things and find enjoyment in them. This 'death' is not to be pushed out or pushed back, nor it is to be related only to the moment of physical death. We can indeed say that we shall be perfect when Jesus comes, when he raises us from the dead, but that is not the point at issue here. Here, in the midst of life, where there is battle and strife, there is to be a strong negative, by choice, and by the grace of God. It is not, for example, a matter of waiting until we no longer have strong sexual desires, but rather that in the midst of the moving of life, surrounded by a world that grabs everything in rebellion first against God and then against its fellow men, we are to understand what Jesus means when he talks about denying ourselves and renouncing ourselves in regard to that which is not rightfully ours. There will be some pain here. Indeed, there are splinters in the Christian's cross."
He is saying that we are not to push off saying to no things until we don't desire those things. It doesn't work this way. Rather, moment by moment we are to deny some wrongful desires, for our good. We do this by choice and by the grace of God. God works in us to choose to not give into some desires.
So, he concludes that this won't be easy because denying desires means that we will be denying what we want to do (our desires). Therefore, he aptly says, "Indeed, there are splinters in the Christian's cross."
But as he writes about in the book later on, these splinters are totally worth it. We get to live in accordance with what is truly real, true, good, and beautiful in the universe.
Quote from Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1971), 27-28.