Previous posts in this series:
Where is God?
What is evil?
Pain is not Evil
Does God tempt? 1
And now to continue:
... So what center point are we to choose? The question it seems is the following. Is God more or less directly responsible for moral evil? Or is he more indirectly the cause?
On the one hand, since the third century or so, it has become a near universal Christian belief that God was the entire creator of everything in the universe. In the 100s, Gnostic Christians attributed evil to the material world, something God did not create. It was arguably in the context of this debate that most Christians came to believe that God created the world out of nothing, ex nihilo as they say.
But if God created the world and everything that exists in this universe out of nothing, then God must have also created moral evil--or at least the possibility of moral evil. Here is where many Christians today part ways. One side sees God more or less directing everything that happens in the world, including moral evil. They may see God causing Satan to cause moral evil, but everything Satan does, he does under orders. This what we might call the hyper-Calvinist option. 
The other side, the one for which I am arguing, gives God sovereignty (or absolute control) over the creation, like the other side. But it distances God from directly causing moral evil. Rather, in creation God created the possibility for moral creatures like Satan and humanity to sin and do evil. He gave humanity the power to do evil or not to do evil. But he does not actually do anything evil.
Notice the way I worded this. God does not do anything evil. According to our definition in the previous section, we mean to say that God never at any point has an evil intent. By wording it in this way, we are not necessarily saying that God could never tempt or that God could not cause someone to act evilly, although these are hard things to imagine. We are saying that anything God does, he does righteously. He does nothing with an evil intent.
So if God were ever to cause pain or suffering--indeed, if we could ever imagine God causing someone to do evil--he would never do so with evil intent. The Christian center points are surely the twin points of love and justice within God. God never does anything that is unloving. Justice is not unloving. Justice is when God does not show mercy and allows/administers the consequences of one's own choices.
In general, our approach is to say that God primarily allows evil and pain in the world rather than more or less orchestrating it. The evil that happens in the world happens because of God's permissive will rather than his directive will. I am unsure whether we can completely eliminate the possibility that God might at some point direct someone to do evil. What we can say is that he would only do so with an intent for good.
We also prefer to see God's justice much more as his allowing the consequences of one's choices to play out. This is the picture we get in Romans 1, where God "abandons" humanity to spiral into the consequences of its own sinful actions. Whatever hell might be, the most coherent understanding is that it is not so much a place where God sends people as the playing out of the consequences of one's evil intentions, with God simply not intervening to stop the process.
So does God tempt us? James 1 is basically saying that we are ultimately to blame for our own evil actions. If we have to answer yes or no, the best answer is surely no. But James is not writing philosophy. It is wisdom literature, which is proverbial in nature. Although it is hard to imagine, we probably cannot say that God would never tempt under any circumstances whatsoever. We can say he himself would never do so with evil intent.
Therefore, in the light of the totality of Scripture and a more precise sense of God's nature, we should see the Old Testament passages about God directly tempting and causing people to do evil things as very imprecise presentations that we can refine. Rather than God sending an evil spirit that caused Saul to try to kill David, we can say more accurately that God allowed the various powers both spiritual and individual to do these things. God far more allows moral evil in the world rather than directing it. And indeed, perhaps he never ever directs it.
 I say hyper-Calvinist option because Calvin himself seems to have believed that it was possible that Adam might not have sinned, but since he did, humans are evil. This view would not make God the direct cause of evil because he would have given Adam a choice.