51. What does the term “total depravity” mean, and is it biblical?

Although total depravity does not mean that all men will display evil to the fullest extent possible, or that one man may never be good relative to another, or “in the right” when it comes to a particular situation; yet it does mean that no man can ever do anything whatsoever that is completely acceptable in the sight of God. The very best acts of fallen man are tainted and imperfect, and thus loathsome before the altogether holy God of creation. Basically, the doctrine of total depravity, in a calvinistic soteriology, intends two things: first, that no act of man is ultimately good or perfectly acceptable to God; and second, that man is so corrupted by sin, that he is utterly unable to contribute anything to his regeneration, even the simplest act of seeking God, believing in him, or coming to him.

Both aspects of this reformed doctrine of total depravity find much scriptural support. The bible clearly teaches that man cannot do anything good, he cannot please God, he is utterly bound to sin and the devil, and even his best acts are as filthy rags before God (Gen. 6:5; Job 15:14-16; Psa. 130:3; 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 64:6; Jer. 13:23; John 3:19; 8:34, 44; Rom. 3:9-12; 6:20; 8:8; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; Tit. 3:3; 1 John 5:19; Jam. 3:8; 1 John 1:8; ); it also teaches that man cannot even seek God, come to him, or believe in him, unless God himself draws him, regenerates him, and gives him a living heart of flesh (John 3:3-8; 6:65; 10:26; 12:37-41; Rom. 3:10-11).

Further Studies:
The Total Depravity of Man by A.W. Pink
Adam's Fall and Mine by R.C. Sproul
Total Depravity Verse List by Travis Carden
Human Inability by C.H. Spurgeon
The Apparent "Good" in Natural Man by John Hendryx
Total Depravity by John Piper

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