Protestant theology typically distinguishes between justification and sanctification...

  1. Justification — (1) a purely legal transaction, (2) based on God's justice, (3) our sins are covered,(4) the key ingredient of salvation, (5) appropriated by faith
  2. Sanctification — (1) not a salvation question, (2) over time we become more holy

Is justification more like a rental agreement or like being pulled from the ocean?

God is not a judge deciding cases and meting out punishments.

God is supremely Holy. When impure and sinful souls are drawn closer to God at judgment time, his light repels them. God cannot look upon sin.