....he hath whereof to glory; BUT NOT BEFORE GOD.
In the book of Romans Paul uses Abraham as an example of how his faith (apart from the deeds of the law) was accounted as righteousness. Paul says the following (Romans 4)
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.
Now many preachers today seem to think that Paul (in this statement ) is condemning good works, (in the sense that no man should glory in their works before God). Oftentimes this verse is used in collaboration with other verses ("no flesh should glory in his presence", and "our works are as filthy rags" and "not of works lest any man should boast") in an effort to justify salvation by faith...alone. But is this the correct interpretation of what Paul is saying? For if we take into account what is plainly stated by James ("Was not Abraham our father justified by WORKS, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar?"), it becomes quite obvious that Abraham was NOT justified by faith...alone, (as so many preach), but by works wrought with his faith. So then if he was justified by works (along with his faith) what is Paul speaking of when he says, "for if Abraham were justified by works he hath whereof to glory, but not before God?"
Let us consider Abraham's works prior to his knowing God? Or shall we foolishly assume (as some do) that it is impossible for a Gentile (one who has yet to know God) to do anything good? Nay! So then it would be right for Paul to say that Abraham could have gloried (within himself) in his works (prior to his knowing God). But he could not have gloried (in his prior works) before God! For how can works that are Not done for the purpose of serving God be counted as righteousness? But works that are done for the purpose of serving God are indeed counted as righteousness, (so long as they are in line with the teachings of the Gospel).
Paul said, "God Forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal 6:14). How shall we be crucified unto the world if we are still wrapped up in the cares of it? So then let us glory in our being crucified to the world, by being faithful servants to the word of God.
That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1Cor 1:29)
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1Cor 1:31)