Here we go with the 1st of 3 in-depth looks at aspects of soteriology (doctrine of salvation); first up, the doctrine of justification. This will be a short look, because ultimately it is an easy concept to get; the hard part is in applying it to our lives.
Justification is simply God declaring (pronouncing) guilty sinners as righteous and not guilty in His sight. This becomes a first step so to speak as it is this action that removes our guilt while God also removes our stain. How can God do this in light of His infinite justice?
God can declare the guilty, not guilty because the penalty has been paid and punishment has been meted out. 2 Corinthians 5:21 reminds us that Jesus became sin so we might become His righteousness; this is the double imputation of the cross. Christ, the sinless one, bears our penalty as a sacrificial substitute (John 1:29). But more than that, God places our guilt upon Christ; so that by Jesus’: death, burial, and resurrection, He is alive and victorious over sin and death. We then are seen as one with Christ (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:4) so we are holders of His goodness and perfection.
So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!! All that to say: we are not guilty because we are one with Christ and He is not guilty. Therefore we have nothing to fear from sin and death because our penalty is gone (Romans 8:33 – 34). We do not as the Israelites of Exodus 19 cower in fear from the appearance of God because we recognize our sin; rather we recognize God as good and gracious and just, and we run toward Him (Romans 8:15).
What was once a terror to us, the appearance of God, is now a comfort. We can stand with those of Revelation 6 asking God how long He will delay because we do not fear, but rather long for His return.
Finally, I am not guilty in Christ. My greatest need is met, my greatest fear is relieved, and my life is protected and guaranteed in Christ. My life is as the old hymn says a joy unspeakable and full of glory.