"In studying the last half of Fourth Nephi, we will follow Mormon’s description of the downfall of a righteous nation, …[as] we did … elements of a Zion society, in verses 1-23.
We will list the steps which Mormon points out …[in] the Book of Mormon which describes these tools of the devil, which he uses to destroy nations and individuals. You will no doubt see additional steps to the ones we list:
Step 1. Pride and Materialism
4 Nephi 24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.
Step 2. Selfishness.
25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.
Step 3. Divide into classes; look down on others; priestcraft; apostasy.
26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.
Step 4. Pick and choose which parts of the gospel to live.
Step 5. Allow, but not necessarily participate in, wickedness in society.
Step 6. Lower the standards of the Church as far as the sacrament and worthiness is concerned.
27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.
Step 7. Start desiring to be wicked.
28 And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.
Step 8. Put pressure on members of the Church who still want to live the gospel with exactness. Many in society begin trying to impose their “beliefs” upon faithful saints.
29 And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them.
30 Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them, and they did cast them into prison; but by the power of the word of God, which was in them, the prisons were rent in twain, and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them.
Step 9. Become angry at the Lord’s anointed, the leaders of the Church.
31 Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them, even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus, according to his word.
33 And they also cast them into dens of wild beasts, and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb; and they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm.
Step 10. Select leaders whose values reflect their own desires for personal wickedness, support them, and follow them in persecuting the righteous.
34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.
35 And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people.
36 And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;
37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.
Step 11. Openly and blatantly rebel against standards set by the scriptures, and intentionally teach children to do so, while they are young.
38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.
39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.
40 And it came to pass that two hundred and forty and four years had passed away, and thus were the affairs of the people. And the more wicked part of the people did wax strong, and became exceedingly more numerous than were the people of God.
41 And they did still continue to build up churches unto themselves, and adorn them with all manner of precious things. And thus did two hundred and fifty years pass away, and also two hundred and sixty years.
42 And it came to pass that the wicked part of the people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton.
Step 16. The few remaining righteous begin to follow the same pattern the wicked are following, thinking that because they are not as wicked, they are somehow righteous.
43 And also the people who were called the people of Nephi began to be proud in their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, and become vain like unto their brethren, the Lamanites.
Step 17. Almost everyone becomes very wicked. There is no discernable difference between many who are members of the Church and the wicked.
45 And it came to pass that when three hundred years had passed away, both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked one like unto another.
Step 18. Society is riddled with dishonesty, murder, robbing, plundering, and materialism is everywhere.
46 And it came to pass that the robbers of Gadianton did spread over all the face of the land; and there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus. And gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic.
-David J Ridges, “The Book of Mormon Made Easier” Part Three: Helaman through Moroni, pg 233-6.