Receiving the Holy Spirit isn’t evidenced by some emotional manifestation. I do believe there are manifestations of the Spirit, but what I’m talking about here is receiving the Spirit through ever-increasing knowledge. Receiving him means having an ever-increasing light about his delivering power, his burden bearing, his provision.
I repeat Peter’s words: “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). According to Peter, the divine power of the Spirit doesn’t come as a manifestation. He comes first “through the knowledge of him who called us.”
Moreover, the Holy Spirit is not fully received until he is fully in charge. We have to cast ourselves totally into his care.
Let me give a final example to illustrate this. In Genesis 19, we find Lot and his family in a terrible crisis. Judgment was about to fall on their city, Sodom, and so God had sent his angels to deliver them. Lot opened his door to these messengers of the Lord, and they entered the house. They had the power of heaven to deliver that whole family, but in the end, the angels had to force their will on Lot and his family, dragging them out of Sodom. The angels’ message was clear: “If you want God to be in control, then you have to give up the reins. If you look to him for deliverance, you’ve got to let go of your plans and be willing to go his way.”
God’s plan all along was to deliver Lot’s family in the process of fleeing. He was going to feed and clothe and take care of them. But, as we all know, Lot’s wife looked back and died. In short, the Holy Spirit doesn’t use his power to deliver doubters. Unbelief aborts his work. We have to be willing to let him make changes in our lives, if that is God’s chosen way of delivering us.