Most Christians are Christians in name only, i.e., nominal. They recognize Jesus as their Savior, practice righteous living, attend church, read the Bible, etc. This is a very good first step. However, they have not given their hearts and lives over to God to do His will. To receive the holy spirit, they need to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to do God's will. Romans 12:1, 2 (NKJV),"…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service…that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24. Psalm 50:5, "Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
Is God's will for a Christian different from righteous living? Yes. Righteousness does not involve the denial of the good life of the natural man. However, a Christian is sacrificing his human life to follow spiritual hopes and goals. Galatians 5:24, 25, "And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Jesus sacrificed his normal natural, human rights to obey God's will. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will,” Matthew 26:39. Jesus grew as a result of His suffering. "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered," Hebrews 5:8.
In the same manner, a spirit-begotten Christian will grow in Jesus' character likeness as he grows in obedience through the power of the spirit. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore…share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God," 2 Timothy 1:7,8. Through the power of God, the power of the holy spirit, we will experience joy, peace, thanksgiving, and comfort. (Philippians 4:4-9; John 14:16, 17)
In summary, In order to receive God's holy spirit, a person must do three things: 1) recognize he is a sinner, 2) accept Jesus' sacrifice to cover his sins, 3) renounce his own will and consecrate to obey God's blessed will forever. Without the help of the holy spirit, a person is powerless to grow as a Christian.