What is meant by the phrase Total Depravity? This is a question that has been discussed for centuries and the answer from Scripture is clear. Man in his fallen state has no ability to respond to God and His will for salvation.
At first glance, people think this diminishes free will but it does not. It is not a question of the will, it is a question of ability. In our depraved and sinful state, we do not have the ability to seek after God. Paul makes this quite clear:
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”Romans 3:10-12 ESV
Nobody does good. Nobody is righteous. Nobody seeks after God. That is a pretty clear statement. It is an absolute statement. And notice something, the text says as it is written. Why does it say this? Because this is not just the words of Paul. This is an Old Testament quote from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53.
So the idea of Total, or Radical, depravity is not a new one. It is clearly shown in Scripture. In fact, there are many more verses that speak to the depravity of man that we will not go into here.
But this should help us understand the plight of the unsaved. This should give us compassion and patience with them. We need to preach the Gospel with passion. But we should not get discouraged if there is not a response. We should not get frustrated if there is no response. We should continue to preach and to pray that the Holy Spirit will ignite the fire of the effectual call within that individual.