To answer your question we will first consider what “total depravity” means and then we will discuss “man’s will” and how it relates to total depravity. The words “total depravity” are not found in the Bible but when men use those words, they are speaking of how SIN has corrupted man’s whole being. In Jeremiah 17:9 we see this solemn truth: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it.” The “heart” here speaks of man’s “inner being” (the “true person” living in his outward body). Because man’s heart is deceitful and wicked, we read, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). This “heart” is in every one of us! We were “born in SIN” (Psalm 51:5) and because we were born sinners “ALL HAVE SINNED and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23). Man’s sinful heart is “totally self-centered” as we see in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, TO HIS OWN WAY.” This means we do NOT want to live according to “God’s way” but our “own way.” The fact is we want to leave God out of our thoughts and lives altogether. This is brought out clearly in Romans 3:10-12, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” So, NO ONE understands God and NO ONE seeks after God. Man may become “religious” and pretend to be learning of and seeking after God, but it is all in vain for there is no real desire on man’s part to know God. All of their religious acts to supposedly please God and earn His favor are described in Isaiah 64:6, “But WE ARE ALL an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES ARE LIKE FILTHY RAGS.” This, dear friend, gives us a little picture of what is meant by “total depravity.”

How does this relate to “man’s will?’ As we have seen man has no desire whatsoever to “seek God” so when one hears God’s Word, they instinctively reject it. When Jesus was here and presented God’s Word to men how did they respond? We have the answer in John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil HATES THE LIGHT AND DOES NOT COME TO THE LIGHT, lest his deeds be exposed.” Again, SIN dominates the heart of man so when presented with the “light of God’s Word” they retreat into the darkness, for they LOVE DARKNESS and HATE THE LIGHT. This is in their very NATURE. And this leads us to “man’s WILL.” We can define the “will of man” as having “the ability to make choices.” Because of man’s fallen, sinful nature he continually makes “bad choices.” He still has a “free will,” but his sinful nature gives him the desire to sin instead of obeying God. He chooses “evil over good.” This is the problem with man’s “free will” and as we can see it is directly related to “total depravity.”

It must be noted that man is still responsible to respond to God’s Word. Jesus continually invited sinners to “come to Him” to receive eternal life but yet no one would believe. “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and YET DO NOT BELIEVE” (John 6:35-36). Why wouldn’t they come to Him? Ah, because their WILLS WERE AGAINST HIM! In John 5:40 Jesus made this perfectly clear: “But you ARE NOT WILLING TO COME TO ME that you may have life.” So, it is not a case where “man CANNOT come”; it is a case where “man WILL NOT come.”

Thankfully there is hope for man and that hope lies in God’s amazing grace. In John 6:44 we read, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” God’s grace can come in and work in man’s wicked heart to create the desire for man to come! Philippians 2:13 tells us, “For it is God who works in you both TO WILL and TO DO for His good pleasure.” God’s grace is like a mighty magnet that can draw the sinner to Christ and cause him to believe! Then the wonderful New Birth takes places and a NEW HEART is given to him. The born-again sinner will then learn that his salvation and new birth were ALL OF GOD as we read in John 1:12-13, “But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of THE WILL OF THE FLESH, nor of the WILL OF MAN, but OF GOD.” Again, God did not “set aside man’s will,” but He had to make it possible for man’s will to conform to His will, and His will is for the sinner to come to His Son by faith to receive eternal life.  (481.1)  (DO)