10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
Lehi taught his sons, “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Joseph Smith taught, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith , 255–56).
As Alma teaches his son Corianton in the passage above, wrong choices will not lead to happiness, however attractive they may appear and however many people seem to be making those same choices and “getting away with it.” When we choose to sin, Alma says, we place ourselves “in a state contrary to the nature of happiness,” even if we don’t see the full consequences of our actions immediately.
Every time we make a choice, we are implicitly accepting the consequence which will inevitably follow:
While you are free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences. Whether for good or bad, consequences follow as a natural result of the choices you make. Some sinful behavior may bring temporary, worldly pleasure, but such choices delay your progress and lead to heartache and misery. Righteous choices lead to lasting happiness and eternal life.
(“Agency and Accountability,” “For the Strength of Youth”)
And as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, we can find joy today in knowing that we are doing right without waiting for the external affirmation which will eventually follow:
Rectitude is a perpetual victory celebrated not by cries of joy but by serenity which is joy fixed or habitual. It is disgraceful to fly to events for confirmation of our truth and worth. The capitalist does not run every hour to the broker to coin his advantages into current money of the realm; he is satisfied to read in the quotations of the market that his stocks have risen. The same transport which the occurrence of the best events in the best order would occasion me, I must learn to taste purer in the perception that my position is every hour meliorated and does already command those events I desire.
(Essays, Lectures, and Orations, p 210)
Today, I will find happiness in righteous living. I will remember that “wickedness never was happiness,” and that sin places people “in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” I will find peace and joy in choosing righteously even before I see the consequences of those choices.