Waging the war....successfully

I promised a follow up to the "war is a good sign" post.  Here goes.

Indeed, the presence of a struggle between flesh and spirit means that the Spirit is alive in you but the point is not to abide in the struggle....the point is to win.

You may be saying "yes!  I want to win!  But I've tried and tried and tried and ______ is still a problem in my life.  I still lose my temper, I still battle obesity/pornography/alcohol, I still am jealous of others, I still......... whatever....I keep losing."
The struggle - between my flesh ("self") and the Spirit.
   When my flesh is in control, it convinces me that I am owed certain things (like comfort, security, significance, pleasure) and when those things are not delivered as I expect, products like worry and anger and jealousy and impurity and strife are produced.  John Piper calls these "works of the flesh" - " emotional attempts to settle accounts because we didn't get what we thought we deserved".  My flesh is awfully convinced that I merit far more than is actually true, and often, more than I am getting.

The Spirit, on the other hand, produces life.  Galatians 5:22,23 describes the results of a life dominated by the Spirit instead of the flesh: " love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control"

Duh, I choose "Spirit".  How bout you?

I want to, I really do.  And I'll bet you do, too.

How can we?

I don't have "three keys to successfully dying to yourself". Even if I did, our flesh would probably refuse to read them!  Our flesh or adamic nature or "self" is quite stubbornly intent on running the show.
But I do have some good news.

First, the reality. 
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:17)
 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
(Romans 7:22-25)

Next, the good news for the Christ-follower:
Our flesh has been rendered powerless. 
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6)

But wait, why does my flesh continue to cause me problems if it's been crucified???

Our flesh has indeed been dealt a mortal wound.  Piper describes it as  "dragon that resides in the cave of our soul" and " It is a mortal wound. It will die. That is certain. But it has not yet bled to death, and it may yet revive with violent convulsions and do much harm. So you must treat it as dead and seal the cave as a tomb. The Lord of darkness may cause earthquakes in your soul to shake the stones loose, but you build them up again. And have this confidence: with my sword and my hand on yours this dragon's doom is sure, he is finished, and your new life is secure."

So the dragon called flesh can bellow loudly and order us around....but we don't have to comply

Know that, once we are in Christ, we never have to sin again.  Anytime we "fall" to anger or impurity or jealousy or any other product of the flesh, it's because we chose to.

Seriously.  We chose that sin.
Over peace and kindness and purity and joy.

Last, the tip for how to make the right choice.  Which results in the desired product.
Quite simple, actually.

 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6)

The way to live a life that is characterized by love (for God and others) instead of a life that cherishes self...walking by the Spirit instead of according to the flesh....is a result of

Our mindset.

When we set our mind on the truth and value of the Spirit, the result is life....love...peace...joy.

But if our mind is instead focused on pleasing and satisfying and rewarding our self, the result is death.

Choosing to set our mind on the Spirit is what Scripture calls "dying to self". 

What does this look like when we are in a struggle with our teenager or our toddler, when there is a clash between the will of our spouse and our own, when it feels like a nap or the entire bag of Oreos is what the only thing that will make us feel better?

We choose.
 We can give in to the demands of the flesh by agreeing with it that we deserve whatever our flesh is suggesting.
Or we can direct our thoughts to what God says is true.  That He supplies all that we need in Christ Jesus.  That He only gives good and perfect gifts to His children.  That it is  more blessed to give than to receive.  That we can do all things through Christ.

Simple, yes. 
Harder to do, yes.
But the more we exercise that muscle to choose the things of the Spirit, the less we listen to the dying demands of our flesh, the more we get to enjoy the fruit that the Spirit produces.