Total Depravity is a theological term that teaches that no part of us remains untouched by sins staining effects. Though we are not as bad as we possibly could be, no part of us is free from the effects of sin (our emotions, our minds, our hearts, our desires, our motives, our bodies, our intentions) even from birth. This does not mean that we are utterly depraved; utter depravity is when every area is as depraved as possible. We are not as bad as we could be, but no part of us is clean. Total Depravity does not teach that man is incapable of doing anything good in some ways (even as fallen people we are still image bearers), but we are unable to do anything good in relation to God. Wayne Grudem summarizes this well: “Scripture is not denying that unbelievers can do good in human society in some senses. But it is denying that they can do any spiritual good or be good in terms of a relationship with God. Apart from the work of Christ in our lives, we are like all other unbelievers who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18).” Grudem, Wayne (1999). Bible Doctrine (pages 215-216). Zondervan.
God told Adam that rebellion, as evidenced by eating the fruit that God prohibited, would result in death (Genesis 2:17); every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5); the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9); we are sinful before we are born (Psalm 51:5); no one is righteous, seeks God or does good (Romans 3:10-12); sin & death entered through Adam & affects all men (Romans 5:12-14); nothing good dwells in our flesh; we lack the ability to do anything good on our own (Romans 7:18); apart from Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3); apart from Christ, we are darkened in understanding, alienated from God due to hardness of heart (Ephesians 4:18-19).