A common belief holds that God gives us free will to choose whether we do right or not, and that we’re subject to God’s punishment if we make the wrong choice and don’t repent.
The Course states something radically different, that free will isn’t given to us, but is instead inherent in each of us as an extension of God Himself. We share His Will as a natural result of this, and want for ourselves what God wants for us—perfect happiness. When the first choice was made to listen to ego, we believed the erroneous thought system it represents. This choice was freely made, but once made the choice itself was forgotten as we were plunged into the confusing and dark illusion of separation.
In choosing to listen to the voice of the ego, no wrongdoing has been done. The idea of choosing against God’s Will is an ego idea. The choice for ego is reflective of God’s Will in that it is chosen freely. In choosing it, however, we experience unhappiness, and then seek for happiness within that thought system where it can’t be found. But we can never be completely lost—always the true happiness at our core keeps calling to us to return from the unhappiness of that one choice and all the seeming choices that were made since.