Usually in apologetics when total depravity and free will are being discussed, the refutation (or qualifiers) point to the doctrine of sin and its scriptural references to being “dead in our trespasses”. The argument goes that a dead person must first be made alive prior to being able to make any decisions. So to be spiritually dead requires that God grant us spiritual life (regeneration), prior to us being able to choose Jesus at all.
I agree with this line of thinking but would rather couch it within the context of the Covenant, as the above is rather one sided. Within the first covenant we can say that mankind, as represented in Adam, was in a perfect relationship with God. One attribute of God is called His simplicity, which is shorthand for saying He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So when Adam sins against God, this becomes or is an eternal offense. When man walks away from God to make his own choice (eat the fruit), it’s a way declaring rebellion against God who said not to eat of it.
Offending God, in scripture is compared to adultery and murder, which are things you just cannot go back to the person and say, “I’m back, let’s let bygones be bygones.” Because God is the one offended, we cannot by our own volition just choose to go back to Him. Even if we did want to, we don’t have anything to offer Him, that is not His already. We cannot mend the relationship from our side. God must be willing and wanting to pursue us and provide a way to reconcile us to Himself. There is nothing by which we could possibly go and attempt to stand before Him and offer to appease His wrath, for having been wholly offended.
As the argument goes, we do not pursue God because of our estate in sin as a nature, and the death we suffer in the fall is the loss of a wholistic love for God and all that is His. This is indicated over and over as in the Law we are told what outward love for God and neighbor must look like, and then as Jesus tells us, that the outward act is nothing if not from an inward heart of real love for God.
Covenantally If our righteousness originally required perfect and continuous obedience, then one offense shatters the whole, because there is no room, time, or act that can make up for the offense. If you are to always to be right with God, then there is no “down time” by which you could say you wanted to work overtime or do “extra” to make up the deficit.
So clearly if there is to be any reconciliation, God must move towards us, before we could possibly think of moving towards Him.