A formula embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the pathway to happiness. It is a plain and precious truth found throughout the Book of Mormon. It is described particularly well in the teachings of the prophet Lehi to his sons as he neared the end of his life. In speaking to his son Jacob, he taught, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). A few verses later he added, “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Lehi’s teachings in this sermon to Jacob may be summarized simply: Obedience and righteousness lead to blessings, which lead to joy.
Conversely, disobedience and wickedness lead to punishment, which leads to sorrow. The Savior is the great Mediator of all mankind and the sponsor of the pathway to happiness and eternal life. The devil is the miserable father of lies and the sponsor of the pathway to captivity and death. Clearly, the adversary understands that we would not knowingly choose captivity and death, yet because he will be miserable forever, he seeks also the misery of all mankind (see 2 Nephi 2:27). He does this by distorting the consequences of sin and disobedience.
That is one reason he is called the father of lies. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said: “All of you … know of Satan, the father of lies. You know how he turns the truth into a lie. He garnishes evil to make it appear beautiful, pleasing, easy, and even good. ”1 Satan would have us believe that the formula for happiness begins with wickedness and sin. We are warned that his temptations are cloaked so cleverly that sometimes he even appears “nigh unto an angel of light” (2 Nephi 9:9).
The Lord described the fall and goals of Satan: “Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; “And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will” (Moses 4:3–4).
The pathway to happiness begins with righteousness through obedience to the commandments. The commandments have been given to us as a divine playbook to direct us away from many of the calamities of mortality. The Lord proclaimed this in the infancy of the Restoration: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. , and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (D&C 1:17; emphasis added).