Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), by Watchman Nee

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There is a difference between the burden of the spirit and the weight of the spirit. The weight of the spirit is from Satan, and its purpose is to cause believers to suffer; Satan uses the weight to suppress them. The burden of the spirit, however, is from God. Its purpose is to make known His will and secure the believers’ cooperation. The weight of the spirit has no other purpose except to suppress. As such, it is useless and fruitless. The burden of the spirit is a burden from God, and its goal is to cause men to work, intercede, and preach for God. Such a burden is purposeful, reasonable, and profitable. Believers must differentiate between the burden in their spirit and the weight in their spirit.

Satan does not give any burden to the believers; he only surrounds the believers’ spirit and oppresses the believers with the weight. Satan’s weight causes the believers’ spirit to be bound and their minds to stop functioning. A person who bears a burden only has to bear the burden itself; but a person who is oppressed is bound in his whole being. Once the power of darkness comes to a believer, he loses his freedom immediately. However, a burden from God is not like this. No matter how heavy God’s burden is, it will never be so heavy that a person cannot pray. The freedom of prayer will never be lost under any kind of burden. But the weight imposed by the enemy takes away the believers’ freedom in prayer. In fact, except for some wrestling and withstanding prayers, this weight cannot be removed. God’s burden is removed once we pray. But this is not true with the weight from the enemy. Moreover, the weight of the spirit creeps in secretly, while the burden in the spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our spirit. The weight of the spirit is painful and suppresses the believers’ life; the burden in the spirit is joyful because it cooperates with God (cf. Matt. 11:30). (Of course, the flesh does not feel joyful about the spirit’s burden. Furthermore, this burden is also painful if one does not meet its demands.)

All real work begins first with a burden in the spirit. (Of course, when we do not have a burden in the spirit, there is the need to exercise the mind.) When God wants us to do something, say something, or pray for something, He first gives us a burden in our spirit. If we know the laws of the spirit, we will not rashly continue on with the work in our hands, allowing the burden to become heavier and heavier. (Perhaps when we allow the matter to go on for a long time, the sense for the burden may be lost.) We should drop everything and study the burden. After we understand the meaning of the burden, we should walk according to what we know. When everything is accomplished, the burden will be gone from us.

Ordinarily, a believer’s spirit must be free and unsuppressed before it can receive burdens from God. Only a free spirit can sense the move of the Holy Spirit. A spirit that has been filled with weight is no longer keen in its intuition and cannot be a good vessel anymore. Many times a believer receives a burden from God, yet he cannot carry out the requirements of the burden. As a result his spirit suffers for many days from the burden, and he is not able to receive any fresh burden from God. Hence, it is very important to find out the meaning of a burden in prayer by the Holy Spirit and through the exercise of the mind.

(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 23, by Watchman Nee)