There is no more misunderstood person in this world than the Holy Spirit.
In my studies and current role as pastor of a local church I have been teaching on the Holy Spirit and his involvement with the people of God throughout revelatory history. When I began the study in Genesis 1:2 I expected to learn many new facets of the Third Person, but what I found astonished me. Instead of an unecessary apendage to the Father/Son duo that most christians reduce God to, I found Him to be an essential member of the Trinity in dealing with incapable people. What was before an halfhearted knowledge of simplistic 'energy' has now become an acknowledgement of utter dependance and joy that is mine in belonging to the God who saw it fit to indwell this lowly sinner with His own Spirit to lead me, teach me, and guide me to my true home.
As I have continued this study, I keep coming across passages that have a profound impact on my appreciation for the Holy Spirit's role in my life. I suppose the biggest transition for me has been learning that relying on the Spirit for growth does not mean 'trying really hard' to be good.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
"Liv[ing] according to the flesh", in context, means living in your own ability. If there is anything clear in the history of the Holy Spirit's self-disclosure it is that what God is doing in the midst of His creation is by His power and might, not through any conventional means of mans inherent ability. It is through this acknowledgement and reliance on God's sanctifying work in the Christian's life that he might enjoy what is immediately described in the following verses.
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,"
The prerequisite for growing as a christian is not to look to one's ability to overcome sin. The first prerequisite is to be a christian, and that means to rely on Christ's sacrifice for sin and His imputed righteousness as your only hope of life eternal. Second, it is to place that same reliance onto the Spirit of God for your growth. Be led by the Spirit. Not in some pagan and mystical sense, but in the real and solidly biblical sense:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.