The Lasting Joy of Gospel Living
February 2024

“The Lasting Joy of Gospel Living,” Liahona, February 2024.

The Lasting Joy of Gospel Living

Enduring joy comes by enduring in the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping others do the same.

Adam and Eve with Garden of Eden in background

The Garden of Eden, by Grant Romney Clawson; Leaving the Garden of Eden, by Joseph Brickey

A succinct expression of the purpose of our lives can be found in Lehi’s prophetic teachings about the beginning of human life on earth. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in a state of innocence. Had they remained in that condition, they would have “[had] no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (2 Nephi 2:23). Thus, as Lehi explained, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25; see also Moses 5:10–11).

As we grow up in a fallen world, we learn the difference between good and evil by what we are taught and by what we experience. We “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55). Joy comes as we reject the bitter and increasingly cherish and hold fast to the good.

Finding Joy

Because of His perfect love for us, our Heavenly Father is eager to share His perfect joy with us, both now and in eternity. That has been His motivation in everything from the beginning, including His glorious plan of happiness and the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son to redeem us.

God does not try to impose joy or happiness on us, but He teaches us how to find it. He also tells us where joy cannot be found—“wickedness [is not and] never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). It is by His commandments that our Heavenly Father reveals to us the path to joy.

President Russell M. Nelson expressed it this way:

“Here is the grand truth: while the world insists that power, possessions, popularity, and pleasures of the flesh bring happiness, they do not! They cannot! What they do produce is nothing but a hollow substitute for ‘the blessed and happy state of those [who] keep the commandments of God’ [Mosiah 2:41].

“The truth is that it is much more exhausting to seek happiness where you can never find it! However, when you yoke yourself to Jesus Christ and do the spiritual work required to overcome the world, He, and He alone, does have the power to lift you above the pull of this world.”1

Thus, lasting joy is found in keeping the commandments of God, and the commandments of God are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it is our choice. If in our weakness we fail for a time to keep the commandments, we can still turn around, reject the bitter, and once again pursue the good. The love of God does not excuse sin—that would be mercy robbing justice—but by His Atonement, Jesus Christ offers redemption from sin:

“Amulek … said … that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.

“And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls” (Helaman 5:10–11; emphasis added).

Jesus said:

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:10–11).

This is what Lehi felt in his dream as he tasted the fruit of the tree of life—which represents the love of God. He said, “As I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy” (1 Nephi 8:12; see also 11:21–23).

Lehi also revealed a second way we can bring joy into our lives when he said, “Wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of [the fruit] also” (1 Nephi 8:12).

one hand passing fruit to another hand, with tree in background

Background: Tree of Life, by Kazuto Uota

Helping Others Find Joy

Like King Benjamin’s people, we are “filled with joy” when we receive a remission of our sins and experience “peace of conscience” (Mosiah 4:3). We feel it again when we look outward and seek to help family members and others receive that same joy and peace.

As a young man, Alma sought happiness in everything opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. After being rebuked by an angel, he came a long way from “the bitter” to “the good” by repentance “nigh unto death” (Mosiah 27:28) and the Savior’s abundant grace. Years later, Alma rapturously declared to his son Helaman:

“And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! …

“Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste. …

“Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors;

“For because of the word [the gospel of Jesus Christ] which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted” (Alma 36:20, 24–26).

On another occasion, Alma testified:

“This is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

“And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy” (Alma 29:9–10).

Alma went on to proclaim the overwhelming joy he felt when others had success in bringing souls unto Christ:

“But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren [the sons of Mosiah], who have been up to the land of Nephi.

“Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!

“Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy” (Alma 29:14–16).

We can find the same joy as we love others with “the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47; see also verse 48), share restored truth with them, and invite them to gather with the covenant people.

the Savior in Gethsemane

O My Father, by Simon Dewey

Joy Amidst Tribulation

We should not be afraid that the trials and challenges we inevitably face in mortality will prevent or destroy our joy. Alma was one whose selfless service for others cost him dearly. He suffered imprisonment, extended periods of hunger and thirst, beatings, threats to his life, and repeated ridicule and rejection. And yet, it was all “swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38). Perhaps Alma’s suffering made the joy that followed even greater.

President Nelson reminds us that joy played a role in the Savior’s suffering—“for the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

“Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

“And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home—clean and worthy—to live with our Heavenly Parents and families.

“If we focus on the joy that will come to us, or to those we love, what can we endure that presently seems overwhelming, painful, scary, unfair, or simply impossible?”2

Enduring joy comes by enduring in the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping others do the same. Lasting joy comes as we abide in the love of God, obeying His commandments and receiving the Savior’s grace. In the gospel path, there is joy in the journey as well as joy at the end. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the path of daily joy.