Total depravity is a doctrinal teaching that denies man the ability, on his own, to seek forgiveness and follow Christ. This doesn’t mean that man has the ability but chooses not to seek Christ, it means that in man’s fallen state, they are completely incapable of choosing Christ. Not only are they unable, but they are also entirely unwilling and have no desire to have a relationship with God. They are blinded to His righteousness and will never know the difference.
Eph 2:1 And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Some theologians link total depravity to original sin. This theology says that from birth, man is conceived in original sin and can do nothing to establish a relationship with God. Not only can they do nothing, they will have no desire to seek a relationship with the Father. With this doctrine, the only way one can be saved, is by God intervening in their life. When this doctrine is associated with original sin, it leads many to believe the theology known as Calvinism. Accepting this belief, means that you have to accept the illusion that if a child dies, it is eternally separated from God and will be tormented in the lake of fire for the sin of Adam and not their own. The fact that the child was never given an opportunity does not matter because if the child would have lived to be 100 years old, it still would not have been able or willing to change its fate.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Others dismiss total depravity all together. Those that do not accept this doctrine, usually are linked to what is known as Palagianism or more commonly known as Arminianism. This belief teaches that man, no matter what their condition, have the ability within themselves to choose, at any time, to follow Christ. They feel that it is up to them to take the first step in redemption. God will not treat you any differently than anyone else. He has made the way for you to have a relationship with Him but it is now up to you to decide if you want to have that relationship or not.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
I find in my studies that total depravity is an accurate Biblical doctrine. Man, on his own, will not repent or seek the Lord. “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44). This simply means that man is incapable of coming to the Lord unless God first intervenes. Without God’s intervention, man will continue to travel down the broad road of sin. Dead in trespasses and sins, no one will ever give repentance a second thought. In this state, man’s heart is totally depraved (Gen6:5) and is completely unable to seek God.
James 4:17 To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin
Because of the overwhelming evidence in scripture, I do accept the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. I do however, disagree with the many theologians on when total depravity begins. I find it does not happen at birth. I believe it begins when one comes to the knowledge of the truth. When Adam ate of the fruit, his eyes were open, he was naked and he was ashamed. At that point, he had sinned against God. Adam was unable to recover from this sin. He tried to cover himself and his shame, but his attempt was unsuccessful and Adam hid himself from God. I believe Adam would have been content to live the rest of his life in darkness rather than to seek God for forgiveness. It was God that first called Adam. The Lord made the first step and shined the light in the dark place. My whole life, I have heard preachers say, “If you take the first step, God will take the rest”. I couldn’t find a more inaccurate statement. The Bible teaches that if it is up to you to take the first step, you will die in your sins.
Romas 7:10-12 There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Many are under the delusion that they can put Him off until they are older and more prepared to follow Christ, and this is extremely dangerous. They have this thought that they can wait until after they have experienced all the things they wanted and then at the very end, decide to labor for Christ. The truth is, it doesn’t work that way. You can only come to the light when you can see the light. You can only see the light when God visits you (John 9:4-7).