I know I have read this many times...and it may even be one of the pieces of Scripture I could quote (through probably not cite specifically). But I'm just realizing the true nature of his warning here.
He is not warning us about "falling" into sin. He is not telling us to take heed lest we wander into sin or get dragged in by others. No. He is telling us that we must fight against our deliberate, conscious choosing of sin.
Before we came to know Christ, we still had a choice...but we had no power to choose...no power to break away and deny those stubborn, evil impulses the world taught us.
This reminds me of a song done many years ago by the group The Newsboys (who by the way have a great new song out right now called "Born Again"). Here is how they described it:
Like a criminal guilty on all counts,
rattling his cage with every ounce
of resolve he never had,
I was convicted.
Then I took the pardon
and the walls came down,
but I must like it here,
'cause I keep hanging around
for a better suit, and an escort,
and a winning lottery ticket.
First we waited for miracles.
Then we needed a sign.
Now we're here to confess
we've wasted the time.
Despite that we have been set free by Christ...despite that we now have the strength and the power (through the Holy Spirit) to resist sin...to flee from sin...to resist and deny the worst parts of ourselves...we don't. At least we don't all the time...and maybe we don't much of the time.
Somehow, we feel comfortable in our filth...in our crud. I imagine it is like the ex-con who was in prison for so long, that he forgets how to live outside of that prison...and so rather than fight through it...it is easier to go back...easier to choose sin again.
I can't begin to count the number of times I've committed the same sin (and THAT is the frustration...its the same sin) over and over again...immediately feeling the conviction of God's Spirit...begging and receiving His forgiveness...and then on another day in another situation being weak...and sinning (that same sin) once again.
Don't get me wrong, I know we all sin...and I know we will never be perfected in this life...sin is a consequence of our collective rebellion. But damn if it isn't frustrating to see myself regressing...and doing so willingly (at least at that moment).
But that's why we need Paul...and the rest of Scripture...and the Saints....and our brothers and sisters here on Earth. We need to encourage one another. We need to build eachother up...and maybe sometimes hold eachother up (i.e. http://www.biblestudytools.com/asv/exodus/17-12.html).
We need to constantly remind eachother that...We are free....free indeed! We can choose! We can choose to leave our prisons of sin! We can walk through the open door...and into the Life of Christ...the life he has waiting for us in Him. And if we make that decision one moment at a time...if I make that decision one moment at a time...I know I will find Christ with me...taking that step with me...right by my side.
“Free at last; free at last; thank God Almighty we are free at last.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.