“Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10). What an incredible statement! Paul is saying, “The Spirit delivered me out of a hopeless situation. He’s delivering me even now. And he will continue to deliver me, in all my afflictions.”
Receiving the Holy Spirit isn’t evidenced by some emotional manifestation. (Yet I do believe there are manifestations of the Spirit.) What I’m talking about is receiving the Spirit through an 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: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to 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 that hath called us.”
“And of his fullness have all we received” (John 1:16). Moreover, the Holy Spirit is not fully received until he is fully in charge. We simply haven’t received him if we haven’t given him complete control. 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 theses messengers of the Lord, and they entered the house. They had the power of heaven to deliver that whole family. But the angels weren’t received.
In the end, the angels had to force their will on Lot and his family, dragging them out of Sodom. God’s plan all along was to deliver them 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.
The angel’s 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.” 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.