Webster’s New Lexicon Dictionary defines depravity as, “moral corruption, perversion, wickedness. Total depravity means that man kind is completely separated from God because of the fall of Adam. Total depravity means the total ruin and total inability of man kind to redeem himself, or to be reconciled to God. Man is by nature a sinner, without God and without hope, (Eph. 2:1-3;) Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” The apostle Paul in not talking about physical death, but spiritual death. In other words, man (the human race) is spiritually separated from God because of Adam’s sin. Depravity is a basic and fundamental teaching in the Bible that every saint and sinner needs to learn.
Total depravity does not mean the absence of conscience. The conscience is made up of intellect, reason and will.” INTELLECT is the power or ability to learn and know. To REASON is to think, consider and decide. The will gives man the means to carry out intellect and reason; this we call VOLITION. Even after Adam had fallen into depravity, his conscience allowed him to become ashamed of his nakedness before God. Conscience therefore, “is the power of the mind to know right and wrong and feel obligated to do right.” (T.P. Simmons’, Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine)
Total Depravity does not mean that a person cannot do good. A person may in fact have a moral conscience and build a moral character. Though Judas Iscariot was a wicked thief, he was driven, in despair, to take his own life because his conscience told him that he had betrayed innocent blood. Cornelius, in Acts 10:1-2, was “A devout man, and one that feared God with his whole house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” He was a morally good man, but God sent Peter to preach the gospel to him because he was a depraved sinner.
Though man is totally depraved, he is not absolutely depraved. Our thoughts can imagine all sorts of wickedness, but we do not necessarily carry out every imagination. We are capable of any sin, but we do not carry out every sin. There are relatively few people like Wayne Williams, Ted Bundy, or Charles Manson, and even these did not do all the wickedness they were capable of doing. Though obscured by their gross wickedness, these men had some conscience of right and wrong, and had no doubt, in their lifetime, performed some human good.
Total Depravity means that the unregenerate (unsaved) sinner lacks the capacity to love God. John 5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. Romans 8:7 goes so far as to say that the “carnal mind is enmity against God.” Two enemies may be reconciled, but enmity is the tabernacle of hatred, hostility, defamation, wickedness, active malice, envy, and conspiracy. Enmity must be hunted down and destroyed. Osama bin Laden is an example of enmity against freedom. The unsaved sinner is enmity against God and His holiness. The fall affected more than Adam’s person. He stood as the federal and moral head of the whole human race. Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. The good news is that the work of Jesus Christ conquers the enmity of the lost sinner through love. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
You may be asking, “why did God allow man to sin in the first place?” The fall of man was not caused by God: for man was made in the image of God. Therefore, man was created, not just in a state of innocence, but in holiness as well. The fall, or original sin, cannot be explained simply on the basis of freedom of choice, natural desire, or that Adam and Eve were the victims of temptation. If choice, why the wrong choice? If natural desire, where did it come from? If temptation, we must assume that they never trusted God in the first place. The fact is, God made Adam mutable. Mutability means changeableness. Everything that God has made, He made it mutable or changeable. You will notice, that in your lifetime, almost everything has changed. You have even changed your mind about certain things. Only Deity is IMMUTABLE; that is, without change. Without God’s sustaining power everything degenerates or decomposes. Colossians 1:17 And he [Jesus Christ] is before all things, and by him all things consist. The word “consist” means to join together parts into a whole; to cause to stand with or together. With Adam, God, by His own sovereign will and purpose, allowed Adam to fall from his holy and innocent state, by withholding his consistent power. There is coming a day when God will do this with the universe and the stars will fall from heaven.
I would urge you as strongly as I know how, stretch your thinking and get a grasp on this doctrine. Study it, research it and understand it. If you do not understand the origin and extent of man’s sinful condition, you will never really understand God’s sovereignty or how to appreciate the true meaning of saving grace. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God. E-mail, email@example.com.