The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 ESV)
As the Bible moves from the creation account to the fall, it is perhaps this verse that captures the corruption of the heart resulting from the fall of Adam and Eve. It shows the totality of his depravity. Now this is not to say that he is as bad as he can be, or that every choice is the one most destructive or heinous. It is saying that his every thought and intention is evil. It is self seeking rather than God seeking. This intent corrupts him thoroughly. This is why man can never save himself, nor initiate seeking God to save him. God must make the first move.
The reformers called this doctrine “Total Depravity.” It means that man, left to himself, is utterly lost. It also leads us to understand that God’s grace is truly grace. It is not a reward for man’s overcoming his own corruption, even for a moment, to merit God’s attention. Grace is the receiving of what is not deserved. Mercy is the rescue from what is deserved.
Lord, your love is deeper than we will ever know. It goes deeper than our depravity. It must to pull us out. May you give us the grace to see how totally depraved we were so that we will begin to understand how powerful your love is for us.